Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Professor Kimberly O’Leary supervises and teaches third-year law students in its Sixty Plus, Inc. Elderlaw Clinic. The clinic works to help older adults by drafting documents to help them plan for the future, allowing them to maintain independence for as long as possible. Professor O’Leary has written extensively in the field of attorney-client counseling, housing law, diversity training, the relationship between social justice goals and clinical law offices and clinical teaching.
All of us see news stories from time to time about older adults who fall prey to bad actors who find ways to steal money, homes and other resources. Most older people have an intense desire to stay in their own homes, even as they age and sometimes become frail. Many cannot afford to hire professional caregivers, and often do not have family or friends who can provide the care they need.
Some of these frail adults are taken in by people who promise life-long care in exchange for the transfer of assets such as a family home or bank accounts. Such adults are often isolated and unable to reach for help after realizing they have fallen victim to unethical schemes.
Don’t let aging adults become a victim. It can be avoided. All it takes is some planning and putting that plan into place.
Sixty Plus student, Andrew Warshaw, recently wrote a piece in the Ingham County Bar Briefs offering advice to seniors on how to avoid being the victim of telephone scams. Lawyers can also help older adults plan for the future. By having an attorney draft a plan, or by appointing a trusted family member or friend to help you with a plan, you can avoid making tragic mistakes. If you or someone you know is 60 or older in need of legal assistance, Sixty Plus might be able to help. Sixty Plus is a national award-winning program providing quality legal services for over 30 years serving those in Michigan’s Eaton, Ingham, and Clinton Counties. Sixty Plus was selected by Elder Law of Michigan, Inc. as this year’s recipient of the Call to Justice Founder’s Award. The award recognizes those advocates who have made a significant or meaningful impact on the aging community.
Professor O’Leary has presented papers at the UCLA/University of London International Clinical Scholarship Conference and the New York Clinical Theory Workshop. Most recently she has written in an Elder Law of Michigan Blog about how to incorporate specific language to help flag and prevent exploitation and how to encourage adults to discuss their need with those they trust long before such help is needed.