Eleanor* came to the Elder Law Clinic seeking legal assistance for her mother, who was bedridden and in hospice care. To enable her children to best care for her, Bernice,* Eleanor’s mother, wanted a power of attorney and advance medical directive. Bernice wanted the power of attorney in order to give her family the power to alter her burial insurance arrangements to suit her current wishes. In addition, she needed an advance medical directive to ensure that medical personnel carried out her wishes even after she became incapable of making informed decisions regarding her care. Although at first Bernice did not consider a will, citing her few possessions, the clinic students handling her case explained the advantages of having a will. Because wills are another of the estate planning services the Clinic provides, Bernice opted to get a will as well.
Throughout the course of her case, the clinic students traveled to Eleanor’s home where multiple generations of the family, including Bernice, lived. The students built a relationship with the family as the case developed, spending time with the family and ensuring that Bernice’s wishes were represented in each document. Every meeting, including the signing ceremony, happened at Bernice’s bedside. At the final meeting, all documents were properly signed, notarized, and executed. As the representation concluded, the students left confident that Bernice and her family had a peace of mind that had previously been missing.
As an Elder Law Clinic student myself, meeting this family will forever shape my life and how I choose to practice in the future. I had the opportunity to interact with a multigenerational family, address the unique concerns of that environment, and ultimately ease their fears. Until working with the Elder Law Clinic, I did not expect that I could, as a student, have such a meaningful impact on any individual—let alone a family who was facing this difficult situation. I cannot thank my supervisor or this family more for the opportunity to be a part of such a rewarding experience.
The Elder Law Clinic can provide legal services free of charge to anyone over the age of 65 meeting eligibility criteria who resides in the Greater Peninsula region regardless of handicap or immobility. Furthermore, the Elder Law Clinic is always looking for eager William & Mary Law Students wishing to use their legal talents to serve someone in their own neighborhood.
*Name altered to preserve client confidentiality