Not all client stories have happy endings. Sometimes they end when the client’s last wishes are fulfilled.
This was the case for Diane—a mother of two with end-stage cancer—whose hospice case manager assisted her with a call to LCD. Confined to bed, Diane wished to appoint her aunt to act as a financial and healthcare agent. When Diane called, Staff Attorney Niki Ludt was on the other end, making the offer of a home visit meeting.
When Niki made the visit, Diane lay in her bed at home. Diane’s aunt kept vigil by her bedside. Still lucid, Diane was so sick to her stomach that Niki had to assist her when she became nauseous and could no longer hold her lunch.
After Diane’s stomach settled, Niki reviewed the power of attorney provisions with her. She then asked Diane if she had thought of who would take care of her children when she was gone. The children barely knew their father and he was in no position to care for them. It was her wishes that her children remain with her family and raised by her aunt. But, Diane was distraught as she did not know how this could be possible.
Niki suggested to her client that she create a Standby Legal Guardianship so that her aunt would currently have legal authority to act on the children’s behalf as well as once Diane passed away. In order to tackle this task, Niki would need a letter from Diane’s oncologist documenting the cancer’s severity. She would also need an affidavit signed by the children’s father agreeing to the guardianship.
Diane was able to obtain the affidavit, allowing Niki to draft and file the petition for Standby Legal Guardianship. The court subsequently granted the petition shortly before Diane’s death.
During one of her many visits to the home, Niki asked Diane what her intention was in regards to her home. Diane hoped to leave the house to her children, who could then continue to live in it with their aunt. LCD, on Diane’s behalf, reached out to Ballard Spahr LLP where two associates volunteered their time. Attorneys Alicia Berenson and Sarah McCormick created a will and trust and worked with the family to transfer the deed following Diane’s passing.
Through it all, Niki and the Ballard volunteers made several visits to Diane’s home and met with her at her bedside. Despite the tragic passing of a young mother, Niki, Alicia and Sarah prepared the legal documents necessary to assure Dian’s wishes would be followed, giving her some peace of mind at the end.