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Legal Assistance (LA) Program

Program Overview


The overarching goals of the Older Americans Act (OAA) are the protection and enhancement of the autonomy, dignity, financial security, health, and rights of older Americans.  Legal assistance is a critical service in meeting these goals.  Legal issues facing older persons in Colorado often have more serious outcomes than those same legal issues facing any other segment of the population.  Vulnerable older persons are less likely to seek the assistance of an attorney, either because he/she cannot afford one or do not realize that he/she has a legal need.
 

The Colorado Long-Term Care Ombudsman and Legal Assistance Developer Programs 2013 Annual Report provides useful information regarding statewide and regional initiatives and needs. 
 

The purposes of the Legal Assistance (LA) Program are to assist older persons in:
 

  • Understanding legal rights;
  • Exercising choices;
  • Benefiting from services, opportunities, and entitlements;
  • Protecting rights promised and provided by law; and,
  • Ensuring access to the system of justice by offering advocacy, advice, and representation.


The mission of the Colorado LA Program is to:
 

  • Protect and assist the older person to access income and services necessary for meeting essential needs, including food, shelter, and medical care;
  • Protect the older person’s right to autonomy in decision-making;
  • Advocate on behalf of older persons who have been subjected to abuse, exploitation, or discrimination;
  • Assist older persons in understanding or exercising their legal rights;
  • Target populations that will not be effectively served by other legal assistance programs;
  • Assure a statewide base of accessible, quality legal assistance services to provide for the most frail and vulnerable older persons, including in his or her place of residence, as appropriate.
  • Provide community education regarding legal issues and local resources;
  • Expand legal services through actively seeking additional funding sources and encouraging pro-bono recruitment;
  • Assist older persons or family members, through referral to appropriate legal and non-legal resources;
  • Address legal issues through the use of judicial, legislative, administrative, and community educational avenues; and,
  • Enhance systems advocacy with the Area Agencies on Aging, the State Unit on Aging, the Adult Protective Services Unit, the Colorado Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, and other members of the aging network.
      
Organization and Funding of the LA Program


The Colorado Department of Human Services, State Unit on Aging contracts with a not-for-profit agency, The Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People, to staff and administer the Office of the Legal Assistance Developer. This Office is headed by the Colorado Legal Assistance Developer (CLAD). The CLAD is charged with developing strategies to expand available legal assistance to assist with resolving legal issues facing older persons. The CLAD oversees the legal assistance program statewide and is responsible for providing technical assistance, training, and support to the local legal assistance providers.


In Colorado, the local legal assistance programs are administered under the direction of the regional Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). Funding for the Legal Assistance Program comes from the federal Older Americans Act, state, and local resources.

 

LA Program Services and Eligibility


Based upon the needs of the community, each AAA establishes the types of legal services that may be provided through the LA Program, within these legal services guidelines established by the Older Americans Act:
 

  • Abuse and Neglect;
  • Age Discrimination;
  • Defense of Guardianship;
  • Health Care;
  • Housing;Income;
  • Long-term Care;
  • Nutrition;
  • Protective Services; and,
  • Utilities.
     

Services are targeted to adults age 60 and older with the greatest economic and/or social need.  Legal services are provided free of charge. 

Contact a LA Provider


Call the local Area Agency on Aging and ask to speak with the local legal assistance provider.


Additional Legal Resources


The Colorado Bar Association has developed several educational brochures for the public. Some of the brochures available include:
 

  • Advance Medical Directives
  • Financial Powers of ATtorney
  • So Now You are a Conservator
  • So Now You are a Guardian
  • So Now You are a Personal Representative
  • What to Do When Someone Dies
     

In addition to the brochures described above, the Colorado Bar Association has many other resources for the public. When you reach the For the Public page, look to the left for links to family violence programs, other legal assistance programs, legal resources, and more.


Colorado Legal Services
offers assistance for low income Coloradans seeking legal assistance and Colorado legal advocates.


The Colorado Attorney General Consumer Protection website provides current consumer guidance regarding a broad array of issues that persons may face, including how to file a complaint with the Colorado Department of Law.


The Colorado Coalition for Elder Rights and Adult Protection website provides extensive information to promote statewide understanding of at-risk adult abuse and the rights and protections of at-risk adults.


AARP ElderWatch
is a joint project of the Colorado Attorney General and AARP that strives to prevent fraud and financial exploitation.  ElderWatch receives complaints of suspected fraud and provides information regarding scams which target the elderly, fraud prevention tips, community education, and more.


The Administration on Aging Legal Assistance federal website a provides further information on the Older Americans Act Legal Assistance Program.


The National Legal Resource Center provides information and other legal assistance resources to assist seniors.