National Elder Law Month

Posted on May 5, 2017


May is recognized nationally as Older Americans Month.  In 1963, President Kennedy issued a formal proclamation declaring May to be “Senior Citizens Month” to honor those who are 65 and older and asking that our nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities.  Every President since, has proclaimed May to be the month to remember and support our senior citizens. In 1980, President Carter changed the name to “Older Americans Month.” The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys now supports this annual proclamation by declaring the month of May to be National Elder Law Month.

The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060. There is a growing need for specialized legal advice about aging-related issues.

This May, South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) contributed to communities throughout South Carolina by educating seniors on their legal options and providing pro bono services.  SCLS staff attorneys understand the issues people face as they age and take a holistic approach to legal advice and representation.  A holistic approach understands that what might seem like purely a legal dilemma is often an interwoven web of a number of other issues.  In such an instance, simply filing a legal action will not solve the client’s problem.

A holistic approach understands that what might seem like purely a legal dilemma is often an interwoven web of a number of other issues.

For example, an elderly client seeks legal assistance probating the estate of a recently departed spouse.  Further discussion reveals that she received a notice of foreclosure due to mortgage non-payment.  With the loss of her spouse’s income, she can no longer afford her home.  Our holistic approach indicates that simply helping this client with probating the estate wouldn’t be enough.  We must also defend against the foreclosure action.  In the meantime, we also look for a mortgage assistance program to help her keep up with the home payments.  Finally, we look into whether she is entitled to any survivors or similar such benefits, and if so, help her with obtaining them.

We also help with preventing experiences like the one above through estate planning and advance directives.  Having the necessary documents in place not only gives our seniors a peace of mind, but helps their loved ones too.  In the month of May, SCLS was offering clinics where seniors could walk in, sit down with an attorney, and execute a simple will and/or health care power of attorney.  In addition, we offer a variety of other outreach events – in May and throughout the year – to enhance the lives of seniors, and their families.  See our flyer above for details about some of our events this past May.

Michael Large

Elder Law Unit Head

South Carolina Legal Services

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