Estate Planning

Easter Seals Wisconsin Aging and Disability Services launches free estate planning service to benefit low income individuals who are aging and/or have disabilities

Easter Seals Wisconsin Aging and Disability Services is launching a new initiative to provide basic estate planning services, at no charge, to low income households with individuals who are aging and/or have disabilities.  Attorney Julie A. Short, program manager, together with volunteer attorneys and law students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be providing the pro bono service.

The law students are serving as part of their participation in the UW-Madison Law School’s pro bono initiative. Students who provide 50 hours of pro bono (free) non-profit legal services are eligible to receive a pro bono certificate acknowledging their experience and commitment to public service, upon graduation. The volunteers will also provide information and referral services to clients regarding other programs from which they may benefit.

Wisconsin residents eligible to use this service must be either an adult with disabilities or an adult age 60 and older, or a member of a household in which there is an adult with disabilities and or an adult age 60 and older. The gross household income cannot exceed 240% of the Federal Poverty Line. There is no asset test to be eligible for this service (similar to SeniorCare), but individuals with significant assets will be encouraged to make a donation to support the program.

Interested individuals should contact Attorney Julie A. Short at jshort@eastersealswisconsin.com or call her direct line, 608-237-1979. The initial contact will involve screening for program eligibility; individuals should be prepared to discuss household income. 

Once basic eligibility is established, an appointment with a volunteer attorney and/or law student will be arranged and a letter sent to the participant about what documents and information to bring to the appointment. Special accommodations for individuals with disabilities will be made.

Documents available for preparation, depending on the participant’s needs, include:

  • Wills (basic, with no trust provisions)
  • Durable Financial Powers of Attorney for Finances
  • Durable Health Care Powers of Attorney
  • Personal Property Distribution Letter
  • Advance Directives for the Disposition of Human Remains
  • Advance Directives Regarding the Use of Heroic Medical Measures (“Living Will”)

Due to staffing limitations, consultations will be available in the Madison or Greater Madison community. Once the program is established, every effort will be made to expand services to individuals residing outside of the Madison area.

This is not a program in which the standard state forms for Powers of Attorney, Wills, and Advance Directives will be simply filled in with the participant’s information. Each document will be specifically tailored to the participant’s needs. All of the documents will be reviewed by Attorney Julie Short, an elder law attorney with 20 years experience.

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