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Sailor Appointed Guardian of Ailing Father with Volunteer Attorney Help

February 5, 2016

A Navy servicemember’s father suffered a severe stroke rendering him incapacitated and needed someone to make healthcare and property decisions for him. However, he had not previously designated a power of attorney nor had he signed any healthcare directives. The sailor happened to be the only family member able to handle her father’s care, but in order to assume this role, she required court-appointed guardianship over her father. To complicate matters, the sailor was soon to be deployed to Japan for two years and therefore needed the guardianship to be in place quickly. The sailor’s military legal assistance attorney analyzed whether the client could submit guardianship papers on her own and concluded that having counsel in the servicemember’s guardianship proceedings was preferred. Because her military legal assistance attorneys could not represent her in court, the ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to an experienced pro bono civilian attorney in her area. The volunteer attorney was successful in persuading the court to appoint the sailor as her father’s guardian for healthcare matters and located a local attorney to be named guardian of his estate. In addition, this attorney covered all court costs for the servicemember and finalized the documents necessary to make the guardianship official, allowing her to make essential healthcare decisions for her father going forward.

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