David* took it hard when his significant other of 34 years died from lung cancer. He lost 50 pounds, and his finances grew precarious. David suffers from dementia, and since his partner was gone, he needed more care.
David ended up in the hospital where his treating physicians concluded he no longer had the ability to care for himself. The hospital filed a petition for the appointment of a guardian for David, and the court appointed an advocate for him – MVLS attorney Janet Fedder. Janet is an attorney with the Adult Protective Services Guardianship and Adult Public Guardianship Review Board (APGRB) project, a program that represents more than 400 indigent adults in the Baltimore area in guardianship cases.
David was estranged from most of his family, but his niece Heather* was always there for him. Heather was very sympathetic to her uncle’s needs, and spoke to several attorneys about the case. But after speaking with them, she was left confused and with incorrect information about the guardianship process. Heather inaccurately believed that she would need to contribute to the cost of the guardianship proceedings as well David’s physical and medical care if she became his guardian.
As David’s advocate, Janet thoroughly and patiently explained the guardianship process to Heather and also informed her about what her legal rights and responsibilities would be if she were appointed David’s guardian. After discussing the matter with Heather, and knowing that David wanted Heather to be his legal guardian, Janet argued for that at the circuit court guardianship hearing. After Heather was appointed guardian, Janet then went above and beyond to help Heather navigate the nursing home system to find the best possible care for David. Because of the hard work of Janet and Heather, David is now in a comfortable, accepting aging care facility.
As the case drew to a close, Heather wrote Janet this note:
“I just wanted to thank you for all your time and effort you gave my uncle, [David]. I was very much ignorant of the system and through your guidance I feel my uncle has the best care. I now am in control of his care without the burden of his finances. Your concern for my affairs makes me so grateful for lawyers like you.”
To help people like David, attorneys can accept representation of an indigent petitioner. Contact Michelle Swift at firstname.lastname@example.org or (443) 451-4068 to volunteer.
*Names have been changed