Last Sunday was National Grandparents’ Day (who knew?), which got us thinking about seniors. The elderly population is expected to grow considerably over the coming years and accompanying this demographic shift will be an increased demand for pro bono legal services for seniors, too many of whom live below the poverty line.
There are a number of legal issues and considerations that are specific to seniors: reliance on a fixed income; vulnerability to fraud, manipulation, and deception; age-related health issues; limited mobility, etc. Meaningful pro bono opportunities to assist eligible seniors cover a wide range of needs. Below are examples of the legal issues that seniors frequently face:
• Protection against fraud and financial abuse
Pro bono attorneys can help elderly clients overcome fraud and financial abuse. Dishonest scammers often go after seniors because they are viewed as easy targets. Perpetrators, posing as trustworthy, are often fraudulent real estate or financial advisors, or even, sadly, the victims’ own family members.
• Conservatorships and adult guardianships
If seniors are no longer able to make legal, financial, and medical decisions, conservatorships or adult guardianships may be necessary. Pro bono attorneys have a critical role to play in assisting low-income elderly clients and their families navigate these complex procedures.
• Advance planning
Pro bono attorneys can assist seniors with various facets of critical end-of-life planning, including estate planning and the drafting of wills, advance healthcare directives, medical proxies, and other essential documents. It is essential that the low-income seniors have access to legal guidance as they make important decisions about their future.
Pro bono opportunities, both short and long-term, to serve low-income seniors can suit the interests and talents of many pro bono attorneys. Through engagements and partnerships with legal services organizations, pro bono attorneys can have a significant and meaningful impact and ensure that low-income seniors live their remaining years with dignity. The PBEye hopes that you will be inspired to get involved to serve this vulnerable and deserving population.
Hat tip to PBI intern Ali Remick for her help with this post.