Retired Col. S. Joe Blanco wants to make sure his estates are in order.
Blanco, 81, was among more than 50 veterans and spouses of deceased veterans who received advice and counsel in all areas of law, including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits.
More than 15 attorneys with the Bell County Bar Association volunteered Friday at a free legal clinic at Texas A&M University-Central Texas’ Founders Hall.
“We have our documents but they’re old and we’d like to have them updated to make sure they’re current with estate laws and federal laws. We’re getting up there in age,” Blanco said. “We’re very grateful and thankful for the bar association.”
After the clinic, veterans who need ongoing legal representation and who financially qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono or low-cost attorney to handle their cases.
“We have a lot of attorneys who can’t attend the clinic, but they still volunteer to take referrals,” said Cynthia Helmandollar, co-executive director of the county’s association. “I’ll send a (mass) email out to the bar as a whole and say, ‘I have this person who has this issue’ and almost without fail, I’ll get four or five emails from attorneys who say, ‘Send me their information. I’ll help them.’”
Steve Walden, president of the Bell County Bar Association, said he enjoys assisting veterans and their families.
“There are a lot of legal issues that are unique to veterans and because they spent many years serving us, we want to make sure we’re providing back to them,” Walden said.
“Especially in our community where there are a lot of (retired and combat) veterans here. It’s just so important for us to provide back to them.”