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Got A Will? 'Project Will Power' Helps With Legal Papers

Leoneda Inge

A community center near downtown Raleigh was buzzing with activity over the weekend.  It wasn’t kids playing, but instead people getting help making out their wills.

Malinda Holloway, 64, came early for her appointment at Project Will Power at Top Green Community Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Holloway heard about the event at church and decided she wanted a will now, despite resistance from her daughter.

“Well I had talked about it with her, but she wasn’t ready to listen," said Malinda Holloway, a lifelong resident of Raleigh.  "And I said, I got to go on and make my arrangements now because I can’t wait on her, because reality is reality.”

Holloway's daughter, Brookie Holloway, laughed out loud.  She accompanied her mother to Project Will Power.

"The possibly of burying her, I was mentally unprepared.  But I am much better now," said Brookie Holloway.

Surveys, like Rocket Lawyer, show half of Americans between 55 and 64 don’t have wills.  Page Potter, Director of the Pro Bono Program at North Carolina Central University’s Law School helped organize the event.

“It can cost, $300, $400, $500 if you go to a private attorney to get those documents prepared," said Potter.  "Here we can do it in a one stop event.”

“Project Will Power,” along with Legal Aid of North Carolina was able to help 40 low-income residents prepare Wills, and other legal documents, Saturday.

Victor Boone is Senior Managing Attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina and volunteers at "Project will Power."  He says having a "Living Will" or health care power of attorney is most helpful.

"We've had people call us from the hospital," said Boone.  "But then that's an individual that's not in a position mentally to sign anything.  We can't help them."

Close to 30 attorneys, 18 NCCU Law Students and a half dozen notaries worked the weekend event.

Cisco Systems Attorney Stacie LeGrow was a first-time volunteer at Project Will Power.  

LeGrow says she was proud to help, even though she recalls it took time to make one gentleman comfortable during such a delicate process. 

“I think he was really intimidated by the process, but having the students here, their young energy really helped put him at ease," said LeGrow.  "Being able to sit down and really clearly explain to him what his rights would be and what would happen to his estate after he dies.  I think it’s a huge service to the community.”

“Project Will Power” was started four years ago by an NCCU Law Student who saw the need in her Raleigh community.  The program has helped approximately 150 low income citizens since 2011.

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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