A local group began drafting wills for emergency crews and first responders 20 years ago after the shock of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011. Since then, they’ve helped more than 1,000 people get their affairs in order.
Wills for First Responders director Cathy Hutton said it was a response to seeing firefighters go to work and not return to their families. Later, she found out that only a handful of those who died had wills.
“I didn’t realize it. Didn’t realize that it’s kind of common,” she said, “for people in high-risk jobs like that to not have these basic estate plans.”
Wills for First Responders is a one-stop shop for any Tri-State police, fire or emergency medical technician to create a will, living will, healthcare power of attorney and other legal documents associated with estate planning.
Hutton said the group handles all the paperwork to streamline the process – and it’s all free, thanks to the generosity of volunteers from law firms and legal departments.
“My goal is to put myself out of business,” she said. “To make sure everyone has one – but we’re being called back to the same departments again. There’s new firefighters, new police officers joining the ranks all the time.”
Even with more than 1,000 local first responders helped, there’s still a waiting list.
“As a first responder, we go to work and we don’t think about it every day,” Erlanger firefighter and paramedic Brad Foley said. “It’s something we should.”
The organization plans to help 100 first responders at an event set up for Saturday, September 11, 2021.
“We’re told at each and every event if we didn’t come, they wouldn’t be doing it,” Hutton said. “They wouldn’t be getting a will done.”