Pro bono spotlight: Helping seniors sign on the dotted line

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  • | 12:00 p.m. July 25, 2016
From left, paralegal Margaret Costa and attorney Adam Owens talk with a resident at the apartment.
From left, paralegal Margaret Costa and attorney Adam Owens talk with a resident at the apartment.
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Pro bono attorneys and paralegals in the 4th Judicial Circuit continue to join forces to help ensure senior citizens have the support of people they trust as they manage their health, housing and financial matters.

Teams of volunteers assisted seniors by creating advance directive documents last week at Riverside Park Apartments, a HUD-subsidized residential center.

Now in its fifth year, The Advance Directives for Seniors Project is presented in three segments.

In the first, an attorney speaks in a group information session at the residential facility. For the event at Riverside Park Apartments, Pat Vail was the presenting attorney.

Residents gathered to hear about the purpose of durable power of attorney, designation of health care surrogate, designation of pre-need guardian and living will.

Document creation on a Saturday morning is the second segment of the project.

At Riverside Park Apartments, 17 seniors completed their advance directives documents.

The third segment of the project provides assistance for seniors who were not able to attend the group session and others who would like simple wills created.

Before the conclusion of each event, documents are notarized and scanned for archiving in the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid case management system.

The seniors leave their appointments with fully executed documents and clear instructions on how and to whom to give copies.

Attorneys who provided free legal services at Riverside Park Apartments were Pat Vail, Drew Krieger, Chancey Smith, Adam Owens, John Germany, Susan Raab, Tess Arington, Joanne Fakhre, Christean Hollinger, Bruce Dugger, and Mary Guilfoil. These paralegals and notaries were also there to assist: Jenny Garmon, Donna Hoffman, Amy Kilgore, Margaret Costa, Visalakshi Ramachandran, Nysha Bell and Laurece Wilson.

For seniors, the peace of mind that comes with having advance planning documents in place should not be underestimated. The seniors expressed sincere appreciation over and over again.

One grateful senior said, “To have the pro bono help is so wonderful, but then to have the attorneys come to us at the apartments is really going above and beyond.”

Transportation and mobility can be barriers for low-income seniors. To eliminate those hurdles means more seniors can benefit from this valuable service.

Sincere appreciation is extended to the volunteers for stepping up for senior citizens who would not otherwise have access to legal assistance.

Seniors throughout Northeast Florida are provided valuable legal assistance at HUD residential centers, medical clinics and Council on Aging campuses.

Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities may contact [email protected].