Story of Justice: Mario, an HIV+ Gay Man, Faces Cancer and Needs to Update his Advanced Directives
After receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, Mario*, an HIV+ gay man, contacted Legal Aid Service of Broward County‘s Ryan White Unit and HIV Law Project. Mario requested urgent assistance in updating his advance directives and estate planning documents. This included a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate for medical decisions and a Last Will and Testament. A few years back, Legal Aid had originally assisted Mario with preparing and updating these documents, which appointed his partner Roy* as the primary surrogate and his aunt Linda* as the alternate one.
This year, Mario‘s partner Roy was hospitalized due to the pandemic. This meant that Mario’s Aunt Linda, as the alternate, would have been enabled to step in and handle his healthcare wishes. However, the documents were executed years ago and Mario no longer trusted his aunt to act as the alternate with his affairs as she did not approve of Mario‘s partner Roy. Unfortunately, the rest of Mario‘s family members no longer spoke to him because he is an HIV+ gay man.
Having received a terminal cancer diagnosis, Mario was in immediate need of solid legal documents to ensure he has someone he trusts to handle both his medical and financial needs during his lifetime and his affairs regarding his estate. As Mario‘s health was especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was advised not to leave his household “bubble.”
A Legal Aid attorney drafted all of the requested updates and within days Mario had the new documents, complete with instructions on how he could execute them with household members with whom he felt safe.
Why it Matters
As a result of Legal Aid’s assistance, Mario was able to rest assured that he had the documents he needed. The peace of mind Mario expressed once these updates were completed was immeasurable.
*Names and images have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients
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