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Posted on: Jun 15, 2021

In recognition of Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, the HBA and Houston Volunteer Lawyers (HVL) provide these resources to help seniors and their loved ones.

 

Elder Law Handbook

The latest issue of the HBA Elder Law Handbook answers many frequently-asked questions on topics such as Medicare, Social Security, guardianship, and more. The section beginning on page 38 covers elder abuse – including scams that commonly target seniors, signs to identify abuse, and steps to take in order to stop abuse.

If a person has reasonable cause to believe that an elderly or disabled person has been abused, exploited, or neglected, they have the responsibility to report the facts to the Adult Protective Agency – 1 (800) 252-5400. Your name and the information you report are confidential.

Read the full handbook online for free. Guides for family and consumer law are also available at hba.org/handbooks. If you would like to order a physical copy of the combined handbook, contact Carly Wood at (713) 759-1133 or carlyw@hba.org.

You can find answers to even more legal questions at texaslawhelp.org.

 

Wills

It is important for everyone to have a will. But sometimes, income or other restrictions can prevent someone from having a complete, up-to-date will.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HVL developed a guide to hand-writing wills. "Holographic" wills, as they are called, are legally enforceable in the state of Texas. Learn how to prepare your holographic will with this online guide in English or Spanish.

However, it is recommended that you prepare a formal will with the help of an attorney. Low-income seniors, veterans, and disabled Houstonians in need of a will are encouraged to contact HVL at (713) 228-0735. Or, Houston Lawyer Referral Service can help you find a paid attorney.

 

Veterans Legal Initiative

Active-duty military, veterans, and their spouses – regardless of age – are eligible for legal advice at no cost through HVL. Veterans Legal Initiative clinics are expected to resume after the pandemic. To apply for pro bono civil legal services, contact HVL at (713) 228-0735.

 

Seniors in the Civil Court Mental Health System

As we age, it is important to maintain mental health. Isolation, bereavement, illness, disability, abuse, financial insecurity, and other stressors negatively affect many older adults. According to the World Health Organization, up to one in five adults over age 60 live with a mental or neurological disorder.

On February 2, 2021, the HBA Senior Lawyers Committee streamed a seminar on "Seniors in the Civil Court Mental Health System," in which the Hon. Christine Butts (Riddle & Butts, LLP) moderated a panel with Melinda Brents (Retired – Harris County Attorney's Office), Dr. Frank Chen (Houston Adult Psychiatry), and Dana Drexler (Harris County Attorney's Office). 

All are welcome to watch the full program below or on YouTube. The presenters discuss tips for staying healthy, signs of mental health problems, legal and medical conditions for psychiatric commitment, and ways to combat the stigma against getting mental help.

 

Legal Advice & Services

Houstonian seniors have options to receive legal help.

  • HBA LegalLine: Sign up online to receive brief, simple legal advice over the phone from an attorney at no cost. 
  • Dispute Resolution Center: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Call (713) 274-7100 or visit drchouston.org. Services are free and include community-based mediation, court-ordered mediation, arbitration, and moderated settlement conferences.
  • Legal Hotline for Texans Over 60: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Call 1 (800) 622-2520, select option 3. Leave a message with your name, phone number (including area code), brief description of your situation, and deadline. An intake specialist will return your call.
  • See additional resources on our website.