A DeLand attorney is offering free health care surrogate and living-will services for any public or private K-12 teacher or support staff member in Volusia, Lake or Seminole county until Sept. 30.
As teachers and school staff brace themselves for schools reopening in the middle of a pandemic, taking care of basic health care directives is one less thing they should have to worry about, attorney Sherri Akin said.
“[Teachers and school staff] can do everything right, and get sick anyway,” Akin said. “Going back to work in a pandemic, with the possibility of contracting a disease that could land you in the hospital — having these documents lined up is very important.”
The two services — designating a health care surrogate, and creating a living will — offer legal protection and guidance in the event of illness, Akin said.
Designating a health care surrogate authorizes an individual to make health care decisions in the event you are incapacitated, Akin said, and grants that person access to your medical information.
“People don’t realize: There are no automatics,” Akin said. “Your spouse does not have the automatic right to your health care information.”
Even within a family, there can be disagreements as to what an individual would want, Akin said. A living will is a document that contains the person’s preferences regarding a variety of life-sustaining measures, like ventilators, blood transfusions, artificial nutrition, and so on, that prolong a life but do not address an underlying condition.
Floridians may remember Terri Schiavo, a woman in a persistent vegetative state whose husband (and legal guardian) argued she would have not wanted prolonged life support without the possibility of recovery, something Schiavo’s parents disputed.
Because Schiavo did not have a living will, which would indicate her end-of-life preferences, the legal fight between the husband and parents lasted more than seven years until, ultimately, Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed in 2005.
“Even if it’s not with us, people should still have these forms completed,” Akin said.
Akin, the daughter of two longtime educators, said she was inspired by news reports of other law firms around the country offering similar assistance and consultation services.
“I can’t build barriers, or buy thousands of boxes of sanitizer — this is what I can do. I can help alleviate some of that unknown,” Akin said.
The law firm will work with each client, explaining the different choices involved to tailor the documents to fit an individual’s situation, Akin said. The law firm will provide a questionnaire, consultation, and notary and disinterested witnesses at their 600 W. New York Ave., DeLand, location — services which Akin estimated to normally cost between $150 and $200.
The entire process takes only a couple of days, Akin estimated.
“We can accommodate anything,” she added.
Akin Law P.A. has waived all fees through Sept. 30 for schoolteachers and support staff in Volusia, Lake and Seminole counties. School employees will need a valid school ID or pay stub. Additional estate-planning services are available at discounted rates.
To make an appointment, call 386-738-5599 or visit www.Akin-Law.com.