Minnesota Elder Justice Center

April 3, 2019

It’s notoriously tough to make Minnesotans open up.

Whether it’s “Minnesota Nice” or reserved Midwest sensibilities, Minnesotans tend to be quiet, private, and polite. They’re not the types to talk about death, disability, and tragedy with a total stranger. Yet the Minnesota Elder Justice Center, Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, and Elder Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association are gearing up for just that – a 2-location, 4-hour advance planning blitz for National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16th. Each organization is dedicated to improving the lives of Minnesotans in need through legal representation, advocacy, policy work, and education.

In a small St. Paul office overlooking slushy train tracks, a team has been planning this day for months. Chris Courtney, Victim Services Coordinator for the Minnesota Elder Justice Center, is spearheading Minnesota’s National Healthcare Decisions Day event. With legal aid groups hosting their own clinics in northwest and east-central Minnesota, Courtney is focused primarily on the “Metro” area, covering Minneapolis, St. Paul, and their suburbs. Over the last several weeks, she has assembled a crack team of legal professionals from private practice, academia, and local nonprofits to organize and execute this one-day event.

Working with abused and exploited elders every day, Courtney stresses the importance of careful advance planning. “It’s not about having these documents,” she frequently says about healthcare directives and powers of attorney. “It’s about whether they name the right person.”  Courtney knows that advance directives with unscrupulous agents do more harm than good. Her goal is not only to execute these documents in April, but to ensure they won’t be an instrument for abuse and control.

Courtney’s team, along with nearly 50 volunteers from the legal community, will draft and execute powers of attorney and healthcare directives for Minnesotans in need. To make these potentially difficult subjects less challenging, volunteers will use games and hypotheticals to start the conversation with clients before they meet with an attorney to draft and execute the documents. Attorneys aren’t technically necessary to execute these documents in Minnesota, but their experience and perspective will help clients choose the right options—and the right agents—for them.

Courtney and her team are accepting reservations for the clinic at Episcopal Homes in St. Paul, and they are equipped to help nearly 100 people in the 4-hour period.

For more information or to volunteer, email nhdd@elderjusticemn.org.

Submitted by:
Nora Huxtable
Minnesota Elder Justice Center – 2610 University Ave. Suite 530, Saint Paul, MN
(651) 4440-9300
Website: https://elderjusticemn.org/
Facebook: Minnesota Elder Justice Center
Twitter: @elderjusticemn