Ready, Set…Create Your Own Free Will!

August is National Make-A-Will Month and, if you haven’t yet created a will, now is the perfect time to add it to your to-do list. According to a recent survey, 70% of Americans do not have a will. And the reasons cannot entirely be pinned on the unpreparedness of youth to think about their future—45% of Americans 55 and older do not have one. Whatever the reasons for not yet creating a will, all would surely agree on the main purpose of setting down their intentions—to protect the people and causes they care about. And amfAR has partnered with FreeWill, an online estate planning tool, to make it easy to do so.

Damion Hänkejh, a technologist who in amfAR’s early days volunteered his time and talent to strengthen the Foundation’s online educational resources, recently discovered the benefits of FreeWill.

“Like most people, I had put off making a will for many years because the process of sitting down with a lawyer just seemed so onerous,” the Smithsonian Laureate (he co-developed the virtual operating room) and IBM Watson Developer challenge winner told amfAR. “Then a friend introduced me to FreeWill, and I was immediately intrigued by the potential of its technology not only to make writing a will quick and easy but also to democratize the process and make it accessible to everyone. I also greatly appreciated the way FreeWill built charitable giving into its online tool as an opportunity to create a legacy that will benefit future generations.”

FreeWill allows you to write or update your will in twenty minutes, free of charge. The online platform guides you through the steps and in the end provides you with a downloadable PDF document, with instructions for signing and witnessing to make it official. You may edit and update your will at any time. So far, a half million people have used FreeWill.

“So much about the FreeWill process resonated with me because it was analogous to the reason I became involved with amfAR back in the mid-1990s, when the Internet was in its infancy,” Damion told amfAR. “I understood the vital importance of amfAR’s AIDS research and policy programs at the time, particularly their efforts to educate people about current treatments and experimental clinical trials. I envisioned the tremendous potential for using the Internet to get this lifesaving information out to a much wider audience of doctors and patients in a far more cost-effective manner. So I worked with amfAR’s staff to craft a new and much more versatile website for them and to translate their HIV/AIDS Treatment and Clinical Trials Directory (the first and only one of its kind) into an online searchable database available to everyone. I’ve been an ardent amfAR fan for almost 30 years now.”

Damion’s support for ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues. In his will, he generously included a charitable gift to amfAR. By doing so, he became part of the amfAR Legacy Circle, a select group of generous, far-sighted people who have included donations to amfAR in their planned giving financial instruments in order to help advance our efforts to find viable cure strategies to eradicate HIV.

Celebrate the people and causes you care about now that it’s August, National Make-A-Will Month, and now that amfAR and FreeWill have made it so easy.

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