The Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities, in partnership with the University of Baltimore (UB) School of Law, hosted a legal planning seminar on March 1 for young adults with disabilities and their families.
To complement the seminar, 18 pro bono attorneys from the community were paired with 21 UB School of Law students to meet with the young adults and their families to discuss their legal needs and execute legal documents. Participants executed 13 advance directives, four advance directives for mental health and 14 statutory powers of attorney for financial decisions.
“When an individual with a disability turns 18, the law presumes that they can make their own financial and healthcare decisions,” says MCDD Interim Director Maureen van Stone, who organized the event.
“Many parents raising a child with a disability are accustomed to making healthcare and financial decisions for their children, but are no longer legally able to do so, unless the adult child chooses to include them in that process.”
“Through Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy and Law), we have seen crisis scenarios that could have been avoided with proper legal documents,” adds van Stone, who also directs Project HEAL, a medical-legal partnership at MCDD that provides civil and legal services to patients at Kennedy Krieger Institute and their families. “But many families don’t know which questions to ask and cannot afford attorney’s fees.”
“There are significant future legal needs in the areas of adult guardianships, wills and special needs trusts,” she explains.
Through its partnership with UB School of Law, Project HEAL will continue to match these young adults and their families with pro bono legal services to ensure their legal needs are met.