Jax Attorney’s Office Offering Free End-Of-Life Document Help Amid COVID-19

Apr 3, 2020
Originally published on April 2, 2020 5:49 pm

One Jacksonville attorney’s office is offering free legal help with end-of-life documents like wills in the midst of the coronavirus. 

Three Rivers Legal Services said low-income people can contact them for help creating living will declarations and designation-of-health-surrogate documents. 

The documents outline a person’s wishes about their health care if they are unable to communicate, and who would be in charge of their medical decisions. 

LaTonya Smith with Three Rivers said not having documents like these can cause some issues down the road. 

“When you’re ill, your family members are already in a state of distress. They are trying to tend to you, trying to tend to the doctors, and if you don't have a particular individual named as the healthcare surrogate, It's hard to make good decisions.”

She said these forms can provide people some peace of mind in uncertain times. 

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“Having documents such as these and in place, it helps to get the pressure off. It helps to ease your shoulders,” Smith said. “You can just really have these difficult conversations now and then close that chapter and just continue to live your lives and you won't have to worry about it later on.” 

Smith said the Three Rivers team began thinking about how to help low-income individuals and families at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The office is a pro bono law firm, meaning if a person qualifies, he or she doesn’t have to pay for legal services. 

The entire process can be handled within a short timeframe online. Due to the pandemic, people who are interested in getting the documents don’t need to get a notary to sign off on it. They would only need two witnesses who aren’t a spouse or a blood relative. 

To qualify for the documents, you need to be at least 18-years-old, with a “sound body and mind”, according to Smith.  

“Dealing with this coronavirus and you're seeing the news, I don't think it's common knowledge that the community knows that advanced directives should go hand in hand with this,” Smith said.

People interested in getting advice from Three Rivers Legal Services can call (866) 256-8091.  

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.

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