At the recent ICLE Elder Law Institute I met one of the Elder Justice Initiative lawyers from the Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project (CVLAP). The CVLAP is a statewide program with attorneys across Michigan. The Elder Justice Initiative provides free legal help to people age 55 years or older who have experienced, or are at risk of, abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Free legal services are available regardless of income. Funding for this initiative is provided under a grant from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). VOCA is funded through federal offender–generated revenue.
Elder Justice Initiative services include getting protection orders, connecting older adults to public benefits and services, seeking to recover funds and property lost as the result of fraud or exploitation, challenging negligent or abusive guardians, evicting abusers who live with their victims, and addressing abuse in institutions.
Both elder law and probate and estate planning lawyers do their best to identify and protect clients vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. It can be cost prohibitive, however, for many families to retain a lawyer to handle legal issues arising from elder abuse, especially for attempting to recover funds and property. It is good to know that lawyers can refer families to the Elder Justice Initiative for assistance.
For other resources on this topic, see ICLE’s Top Tips in Ten Minutes on Preventing Elder Abuse and Spotting and Handling Elder Exploitation in Estate Planning.