Legal Aid Can Help with Estate Planning, Upcoming Free Brief Advice Clinic

by Tonya Sams

     Most people hope to live a long, healthy, and happy life. But what do you do when the unexpected occurs such as injury, sickness, or even death? One way to prepare is through estate planning. An estate plan can provide peace of mind by addressing important aspects of your medical and financial life, and ensuring that your loved ones have the tools they need to comply with your wishes. Here are a few areas that you may need to consider:

     Advance Directives: These documents instruct healthcare providers on what to do if you are unable to communicate due to injury or illness. Examples of advance directives are Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will.

     When creating a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you are naming a person to make decisions regarding your medical needs if you are unable to.

     A Living Will is a document that states the medical treatment that you would like to receive in the event you are unable to communicate, are terminally ill, or are rendered unconscious. This includes stating if you would like to have life sustaining treatment. You can also use this document to declare if you would like to be an organ or tissue donor.

     Because both Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and the Living Will specify different areas regarding medical care, it is good idea to have both documents.

     Durable Power of Attorney: This document is different from a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A Durable Power of Attorney (durable POA) names a person, referred to as the “attorney in fact”, to be responsible for a person’s affairs if they are unable to. This could include decisions about taxes, housing, banking, benefits and more. The person creating the durable POA still has the power to make decisions, but the “attorney in fact” is there to assist them in carrying out those decisions.

     Will: A Will is different from a Living Will. While a Living Will addresses medical issues, a Will addresses the other aspects of your life if you were to die. This would include who would get custody of your children, who would be named beneficiaries, who would inherit your property, how your assets would be distributed and more. Without a Will, the court would make these decisions which, at times, can be a long process.

     Need help with estate planning? The Legal Society Aid Society of Cleveland will be hosting a free Brief Advice Clinic focused on Estate Planning on April 29 from 9:30-11 a.m. at Fairhill Partners, 12200 Fairhill Road, Cleveland, OH 44120.

     At the April 29th Brief Advice Clinic, attorneys and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions regarding: Basic Wills; Financial and Healthcare Powers of Attorney; Living Wills/Advanced Directives; Transfer on Death Paperwork; Foreclosure; Public benefits; Consumer/debt problems; and other civil legal issues

     Cannot attend this one on 4/29?  Legal Aid hosts many other free legal advice events, and you can bring your questions to any upcoming Brief Advice Clinic, simply visit, go to the “Events” tab, then ‘Clinics” and pick a date good for you.  Have other questions? Call Legal Aid at 888-817-3777 or seek help 24/7 at 

Tonya Sams is the Development and Communications Assistant at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

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