As an older adult, it’s important to have trustworthy legal aid close at hand. For this next stage in life a good attorney will be essential. Conditions such as end of life arrangements, estate management, and public benefits. Not only that, but age and disability discrimination and abuse can happen at anytime, and it is important to know where to get help quickly if ever the set of circumstances arises. The consideration of a legal professional is crucial to ensure the rights and property of the elderly are protected.
When do I or my loved one need legal aid?
Despite what is commonly thought of as elder law, legal aid for the elderly is not all about dealing with malpractice. Older adults need some form of legal aid for many varied reasons. One of the biggest categories is life planning. An attorney can be of great use:
- In going over contracts when first moving into an assisted living housing development
- To help create a living will, delineate power of attorney, funeral planning, or estate planning
- Seek advice and gather required documentation in regards to elderly tax benefits, pension, and access to public benefits
- Drafting advance directives
- In getting refunded for financial exploitation
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize symptoms of abuse and get the help you need early. During this late stage of life, it is often the case that we or our loved ones have to rely on increasing amounts of help from caretakers and are more vulnerable to situations of abuse. Abuse can take the form of:
- Financial abuse
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Scams such as those over the telephone
If you or a loved one is being put in this circumstance, it is important to seek legal assistance right away.
How to seek the legal aid
It can be daunting with all the options for attorneys out there. Thankfully there are law practices dedicated specifically to elder law. Hiring an attorney that has a history with elder law or specializes in it can make all the difference.
If you, as an older adult, feel up to the task, it can be empowering to take the initiative by yourself. However, often it can be difficult for the elderly to get the help they need, as legal assistance is a step that seems out of reach for many as they live their daily lives. “It was a situation so far away from everyday reality,” described one person5. With everything that is required of an older adult throughout the day, from doctors appointments to exercise therapy sessions, it may be up to close family members to make arrangements for legal assistance. Some of the most common barriers older adults do not, or feel as though they cannot, seek legal help with important problems are: a reluctance to complain, lack of awareness of how to make a complaint, or lack of awareness of whom to approach for help6. Make sure to ask your loved ones or fellow older adults how their daily lives could be improved or if they are experiencing injustices.