AoA Legal Services

AoA Legal Services

AoA legal services help seniors and caregivers receive information on public benefits, residents' rights, guardianship, health and financial advance planning and other legal issues. There are approximately 1,000 AoA legal service providers nationwide, giving more than one million hours of legal assistance per year. AoA also funds 13 senior legal hotlines. Most clients of AoA legal programs are low-income seniors.

The following examples demonstrate the types of problems handled through AoA legal service programs.

  • A 73-year-old woman contacted by a telemarketer was invited to join a discount buyers club. She told the company she was not interested. However, when her checks began bouncing, she contacted her bank and found that an electronic transfer to the buyers club had been made. Intervention by senior legal services led to a refund of all her money plus additional expenses.
  • An elderly couple was charged nearly $ 11,000 for minor home repairs that were never completed. Legal services assisted the couple in canceling the contract.
  • A lawyer assisted an elderly woman in obtaining her Social Security funds after they had been garnished from an account jointly held with her son. The son had a judgment against him, and the creditor took action against the account. The elderly woman was a resident of a nursing facility and the nonpayments of her bill might have caused her to be discharged.
  • An 80-year-old man discovered that he was a proposed ward under a guardianship petition. He did not believe he needed a guardian, and his lawyer defended him against imposition of the guardianship by showing that the standards for granting it had not been met.

AoA legal services can provide alternatives to guardianship. These include medical and financial powers of attorney, living wills, and advance directives (combination of a medical power of attorney and a living will). AoA legal service providers can also represent seniors who wish to contest a guardianship petition or those who desire to modify or terminate an existing guardianship (or power of attorney).

The AoA required each state to appoint a legal assistance developer, responsible for developing and coordinating the state's legal services and elder rights programs.

Legal Hotlines

At least 25 states offer legal hot lines that provide advice to callers. If your state has such a hot line, it may also offer services such as reviewing documents and providing legal forms. They also may make a referral to a free legal line directory, see the United States Administration on Aging listing in the Resources section.)

The information above is reprinted from Working with Seniors: Health, Financial and Social Issues with permission from Society of Certified Senior Advisors® . Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved.