Thousands of Ohio seniors ignore their legal problems or simply give up trying to find a solution because they believe they cannot afford legal advice. Pro Seniors, a legal aid organization for seniors, has launched a Legal Toolkits section on its website at https://www.proseniors.org/toolkits/ that provides self-help information to help seniors prepare needed legal documents and answer their legal questions.
Part of a Senior Access Project, funded by a Civil Justice Program Fund Grant from The Supreme Court of Ohio, the Legal Toolkits section includes four toolkits: Advance Directives, Financial Power of Attorney, Money & Debt, and Wills & Estates.
Each toolkit has user-friendly computer interviews, which collect the data necessary to create the basic, customized legal documents most frequently needed by low-income Ohio seniors to resolve their legal problems, including Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Living Will, Statutory Financial Power of Attorney, a Basic Will, Revocation of Financial Power of Attorney, and a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) No-Contact-Letter. These high-quality legal documents comply with Ohio law.
Each toolkit also includes links to helpful articles and a Frequently Asked Questions list to help users define legal terms and quickly find answers.
The Advance Directives Legal Toolkit helps users create documents for their loved ones and healthcare providers in case they are ever incapacitated or cannot speak for themselves. Users may create the most common Advance Directives: Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Organ Donor Registration.
The Financial Power of Attorney Legal Toolkit provides information needed to create and understand the workings of a Financial Power of Attorney, including a user checklist and educational articles. It also provides comprehensive and in-depth information on issues like the creation of a Qualified Income Trust, the agent’s non-authority to waive the principal’s right to a jury trial, and the principal’s preservation-of-rights clause. Also included is a related statutory form, Agent’s Certification as to the Validity of Power of Attorney and Agent’s Authority, and a Financial Power of Attorney Revocation Form. Information on avoiding financial exploitation is also a crucial part of this toolkit.
The Money & Debt Legal Toolkit explains how to handle creditors and provides helpful resources for protecting the interests of seniors who owe money to others by explaining the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Users will be able to stop harassing phone calls and mail from debt collectors by creating an FDCPA No-Contact-Letter.
The Wills & Estate Legal Toolkit explains how to create a Simple Will and provides access to Transfer on Death Affidavit forms for real estate or a vehicle.
The Legal Toolkits provide access to information and assistance when other sources are unavailable and/or unaffordable to low-income individuals. Instead of traveling to consult with an attorney, which may be difficult for physical or financial reasons, users can now access help remotely at their own pace.
Dimity Orlet, Executive Director of Pro Seniors says, “By removing major barriers in accessing justice previously encountered by thousands of low-income seniors, the Legal Toolkits will have a long-term and far-reaching impact on seniors in Ohio.”
The Legal Toolkits join a robust Pro Seniors website that houses over 60 pamphlets on subjects such as consumer debt, elder law, estate planning and probate, long-term care, housing, Medicaid, Medicare, and public benefits. Pro Seniors’ website also helps visitors determine their Medicaid-Medicare eligibility, look up Senior Legal Hotlines across the country, and find information about avoiding foreclosure.