- AARP’s Legal Counsel for the Elderly. In Washington, AARP’s Legal Counsel for the Elderly program works with volunteer lawyers to provide free wills, along with other legal and social services, for low-income residents of the District of Columbia. LCE’s staff and volunteers assist more than 5,000 older people each year.
- Serving Our Seniors. This program offers free wills, living wills, and powers of attorney for health care and property to hundreds of seniors in 25 states. In Chicago, project chairman Justin Heather has been forming a nonprofit Serving Our Seniors Foundation and website to continue and expand the project.
- Pro bono wills programs. Many more programs exist across the country. Some have age and income limits, but seniors aren’t the only beneficiaries. In some areas, younger disabled people or HIV/AIDS patients may qualify, as well as veterans, active-duty military and first responders. Type “pro bono will” followed by your state’s name into an online search engine to see about programs that you might tap.
Wills and other documents help fight fraud and abuse of seniors, Heather said. “If someone doesn’t have a power of attorney and estate plan in place and gets dementia, a caretaker may have the authority to write checks. And that person could be taking the house from them.” For more information, go to the website of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division.
Also of interest: Join the spring 2012 savings challenge. »