December 01, 2009

Pro Bono Spotlight - Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated

Baker & Daniels' professionals helped organize Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults (VASIA) in northeast Indiana to help those facing legal hurdles at the most vulnerable time in their lives. Lawyers prepare and execute power of attorney, medical directives and legal work involved in court-appointed guardianships. Lawyers also serve as either guardians ad litem or as lawyers for the proposed guardian.

The program runs through the Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeastern Indiana, which supplies advocates, training and coordination. Modeled after Indiana's Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, this is the only program operating under this format since the state statute governing these types of programs was created.

After the program receives referrals, cases are investigated to confirm a potential client's health needs and whether family members or friends are available to act as a guardian. If no one is found to act as a legal guardian, then a financial investigation will be completed to determine whether the potential client qualifies. If the client is competent, the program will assist as the person asks. If not, the program can seek legal guardianship and help with Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid applications, housing, inquires about nursing care, medical appointments, monitoring care or end-of-life decisions.

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