UNC Law Students Work with Legal Aid to Draft Wills for Low-Income, Rural Residents

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Students from UNC School of Law will spend three days of their spring break donating their time and expertise to help with the legal needs of low income residents in eastern North Carolina. Students will work with attorneys from Legal Aid of North Carolina to prepare end-of-life legal documents — wills, living wills, powers of attorney and healthcare powers of attorney — for low-income and elderly residents of Greene, Halifax and Pitt counties during a series of free legal clinics March 11-13.

The clinics are sponsored by the UNC Law Wills Project, a partnership of the UNC School of Law Pro Bono Program, the UNC Center for Civil Rights and Legal Aid of North Carolina. The partners launched the project in 2008 in response to the growing problem of land loss among African-American families in eastern North Carolina. Families can lose long-held land that has been passed down informally for generations because they lack the appropriate legal documentation to establish ownership.

“Having your legal affairs in order is critical to ensuring that land and other family wealth stays in the right hands,” says Sylvia Novinsky, assistant dean for public service programs at UNC School of Law. “These clinics are a great opportunity for families to get free legal help so they can protect what is theirs.”

At the clinics, law students working under the supervision of licensed legal aid attorneys will conduct interviews and draft legal documents, which will be fully executed and notarized by the end of the clinic. In addition to helping families, the leaders of this project hope to give law students real-life experience serving clients and expose them to public service and the legal needs of low-income communities.

-March 7, 2013

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