A Call to Duty: One Attorney’s Journey to Help Others
Since its inception in November 2013, WSBA Call to Duty has informed, inspired and involved volunteer attorneys in meeting the legal needs of veterans and their families. Nearly 300 members have already taken the WSBA Call to Duty Pledge and volunteered their time and talent to those who served our country. We are proud to share their stories, commitments and accomplishments.
As attorneys, the nature of our profession is to help others. Magdalena Bragun is one of those volunteers. Magdalena had to overcome hurdles to work in the U.S. As an immigrant from her native Poland, she needed permission from U.S. Immigration to work as an attorney. It was a long but worthwhile endeavor as Magdalena wanted to contribute her skills to those in need.
Magdalena represents creditor rights in federal court and she has relatively limited contact with employees of those corporations. She wanted the one-on-one experience that comes from helping people on a more personal level, so she signed up for the WA Vets Will Clinic. The WSBA offered an online CLE on estate planning that prepared her for the walk-in wills clinic. Originally she signed up for the Seattle clinic location, but unfortunately her work required a trip to Japan. The only will clinic that was left to attend was in Pasco, Washington, so Magdalena packed her bags, child, and husband and headed 200 miles east on Interstate 90. While it required more logistical effort than she had originally intended, she was determined to follow her WSBA Call to Duty Pledge.
Attorneys were provided with form documents prior to the clinic meeting. Each client was matched with one attorney and had a private room in which to discuss their issues. Magdalena amended the documents as needed and final versions were prepared, facilitated by a paralegal.
Magdalena said it was rewarding to help people who were worried about their lack of estate planning, noting that many of the questions were simple ones, such as:
- Where should I store my will?
- What is the difference between a living will (health care directive) and a testamentary will?
Magdalena provided health care directives, power of attorney, and wills to the clients. One client was a retired veteran who was exceedingly pleased when Magdalena not only prepared a will for him, but made time to prepare a will for his wife, who had accompanied him to the clinic. Another client was a mother of a young child and was not married to the child’s father. Magdalena modified the documents to account for their situation. The staff who organized the clinic were available to sign as witnesses and clients left with completed, legally accurate documents.
Magdalena encourages other attorneys to volunteer and believes they too will find great worth in providing services to others who have served our country.
Attorneys interested in volunteering for WA Vets Wills Clinic can watch the Call to Duty Lunch and Learn. And, it’s not too late to take the 2015 WSBA Call to Duty Pledge and serve a veteran and their family.