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WCU, national estate-planning service offer free service to help create wills

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FreeWill is a complimentary service provided to alumni and friends of Western Carolina University to provide peace of mind in 20 minutes.

By Bill Studenc

Throughout the month of August, Western Carolina University is once again teaming up with a nationally recognized estate-planning service to help members of the university community who have put off making or updating a document to ensure that their final wishes are fulfilled.

In recognition of National Make-A-Will Month, WCU’s Division of Advancement is working with FreeWill to assist members of the WCU family in developing legally binding wills – and at no cost. FreeWill is a fully secure online-service that has helped more than half a million people create estate plans.

While many people procrastinate about creating a will because of a reluctance to talk about death or to think about their own mortality, having an official estate plan is important to help loved ones know what to do with assets left behind after someone passes, said Ben Pendry, assistant vice chancellor for development at WCU.

“Make-A-Will Month is the perfect time to think about your will. Creating an estate plan is an essential step in ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of,” Pendry said.

Estate planning also can be used to create planned gifts to benefit nonprofits or organizations, including Western Carolina University. Many WCU alumni and friends have used estate planning as a vehicle for designating some of their assets to establish scholarship funds and other endowments to support students, foster faculty development and provide programmatic improvements, Pendry said.

"This partnership with FreeWill has resulted in support for multiple areas of the campus. Our donors express their values through their philanthropy, and this resource  has been very well received," he said. “In addition, those who make planned gifts to WCU or the WCU Foundation become members of The Madison Legacy Society.”

One of the university’s giving societies established in 2020 to recognize donors, the Madison Legacy Society currently has more than 150 members.

The process of using FreeWill to create an estate plan should take approximately 20 minutes. Members of the WCU community interested in taking advantage of the free service can do so at

For more information, contact the Division of Advancement at 828-227-7335.

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