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updated: 1/13/2013 4:49 PM

Attorneys help Geneva first responders prepare for the worst

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An organization that helps first responders such as police officers and firefighters with preparing wills and estate planning hopes to hold another event this year in the Kane County area.

About 50 to 60 attorneys volunteered their time recently in Geneva as part of the Wills for Heroes Foundation to provide police officers and firefighters with free legal services to prepare living wills and other estate preparations in case they are disabled or killed in the line of duty.

It was the first time the foundation, which has a branch in Chicago, made a visit to Kane County; volunteer attorneys usually provide pro bono assistance every Saturday at the Chicago police headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave.

"I figured if we were going to go to a suburb, Geneva should be our first," said attorney Brian K. Jones, who graduated from Geneva High School in 1996 and moved back to the area in 2009. "If folks are able to come downtown, we're more than happy to set aside a slot for them."

Jones said estate planning, creating a living will and power of attorney can cost between $3,000 and $5,000, but attorneys volunteer their time to give back to first responders.

The organization was founded after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The event in Geneva was held at the city's east side fire station, and Jones said the firefighters and police officers who participated were very appreciative.

"There's no catch," he said. "I had a couple firefighters say, 'This is something I've wanted to do for a long time and put it off.' We get that regardless of where we have the event."

While the Geneva visit has come and gone, first responders from the suburbs are welcome if they can make the trip to Chicago.

Jones said first responders must fill out paperwork beforehand and then meet with an attorney.

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Help on the way: By the beginning of February, Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon hopes to set the new salary for first-year assistant state's attorneys in his office.

The Kane County Board recently increased personnel funding for the office and prosecutors, who have worked several years without any raises.

Starting prosecutors in Kane make $40,800 a year; the lowest starting pay in other collar counties is $52,000.

McMahon has pushed for raises, saying it will help retain talented lawyers instead of losing prosecutors to surrounding counties. The raises are not to compete with private practice law.

McMahon has not decided on the salary, but said last week it would be between $45,000 and $50,000.

"The county board has made a step in the right direction with this last budget cycle," he said.

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