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The organizers: Lawyers and staff at Spiteri and Ursulak LLP

The project: Offering free wills and powers of attorney to health care and nursing home workers

When Ottawa lawyer Chris Spiteri heard that three staff members at his mother’s nursing home had come down with COVID-19, he started thinking about the challenges these workers face every day.

He wanted to find some way for his firm, Spiteri and Ursulak LLP, to help and he came up with the idea of offering free powers of attorney to anyone in the Ottawa area who works in health care or nursing homes. Then a friend suggested he go further.

“He said, they probably want their wills more because everyone is so nervous and on edge,” Mr. Spiteri recalled from his home in Ottawa. He threw in free wills as well and put the offer out on social media. “This is for anybody who is working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, retirement homes,” Mr. Spiteri said. “These are all people who are putting it on the line.”

So far the firm has drawn up basic wills and powers of attorney for about 60 people and Mr. Spiteri is hoping other lawyers across Canada will take up the cause as well.

The offer is open to anyone from cleaners to nurses and doctors. All they have to do is fill out a form on Spiteri and Ursulak’s website. One of the firm’s lawyers will review the information, produce a will or power of attorney and set up a virtual meeting to finalize the details. The whole process is free and takes about an hour for wills (which usually cost about $450). It’s even faster for powers of attorney, which are used when someone is incapable of making decisions about their finances or personal care.

Having a will “is real peace of mind,” Mr. Spiteri said. “I know how easy it is to just go about your business and you don’t have one. But I’ve also seen the problems that occur when you don’t.”

Mr. Spiteri said the firm has been around for 10 years and has a total staff of around 20 people. It normally deals with a range of services, from civil litigation to commercial and family law. But for now everyone is focused on the pandemic and how they can help. “The more we can help, the better,” he said.