Jeff Nunham, Adult In-Home Supervisor, recently attended a seminar at Tri-County Office on Aging focusing on free legal help and how to spot legal issues in situations of elder abuse and neglect. Whether you are the caregiver, the one receiving care, or an advocate for someone receiving care, it is good to know about local resources.
Resources for Free Legal Help
The seminar was presented by several attorneys from Elder Law of Michigan, Inc. This nonprofit is home of the “Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors” and “Sixty Plus, Inc.” They had a number of handouts which seniors could find helpful if you are ever in need of legal counsel.
There was brochure for the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors and the Sixty Plus, Inc. a program which offers free legal services to persons over 60. This sounds too good to be true, but it is. Here is the number to call if you or someone you know needs help: (517) 372-3484
From a Handout Legal Remedies That May Mitigate Instances of Elder Abuse
1. Breaking a Lease – Michigan Landlord-Tenant Act, MCL 554.601b, now allows tenants to receive releases from leases if the tenant can document that he/she is under apprehension of danger for domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
2. Eviction – If the person causing the abuse or neglect lives with the individual, an eviction proceeding can remove the threat from the individual’s home.
3. Personal Protection Order (PPO) – A PPO is a court order to stop threats or violence against a person. The individual seeking a PPO needs to have a reasonable fear for their own safety.
4. Guardianship – A court proceeding where a competent individual is appointed to oversee an incapacitated person’s comfort, care, and maintenance. A guardian could use their authority to remove a person from a situation of neglect or abuse by securing safe housing, medical services, and care treatment for an individual.
5. Conservatorship – A court proceeding where a competent individual is appointed to oversee an incapacitated person’s property, estate, and financial affairs, when the court considers a person unable to handle their own property. A conservator could protect a person from potential or continued financial abuse or exploitation.
6. Durable Power of Attorney – A private agreement between two individuals, when cognitive capacity is not an issue, allowing a person to act on behalf of the other as allowed by the document. This generally applies to a person’s business affairs or financial matters. This does not apply to medical decision-making.
7. Patient Advocate or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care – An agreement created while a person has cognitive capacity that nominates another person to make medical decisions for a person only when two doctors certify that the individual can no longer make medical decisions for themselves.
8. Divorce – If the abuse or neglect stems from a spouse, the individual could seek a divorce.
All abuse and neglect is illegal. The courts have put in place laws which protect us from these crimes. However, elder abuse and neglect is occurring all around us. There are very specific and legal actions which can rescue a person who is a victim. This information and phone number may be the first step to helping someone get the legal help they need. Pick up the phone and call. Or go to www.elderlawof Michigan.org