Sometimes seniors face problems that they cannot resolve themselves. At these times, they often need legal assistance from a trained attorney. Not all seniors can afford their own attorney or even know where to turn to find one. A number of legal resources are available in Florida to help seniors with legal issues.
Florida Senior Legal Helpline (1-888-895-7873)
The Florida Senior Legal Helpline provides free legal advice and brief services by telephone appointment to eligible Florida residents age 60 and older, for civil (not criminal) legal problems. The Senior Legal Helpline – 1-888-895-7873 – also makes referrals to state and local regulatory agencies and, when it is determined that court representation is necessary, helps seniors find legal providers in their communities.
Eligible callers are scheduled for a free telephone consultation with an attorney or paralegal who will call them on the day of their appointment. Most callers will receive answers to their legal questions during their initial telephone appointment. Clients may also qualify for referrals to providers who offer free legal services in the clients’ local communities. These providers work in partnership with the Florida Senior Legal Helpline and the Department of Elder Affairs to ensure that low-income and other vulnerable elderly Floridians have equal access to legal remedies.
To conduct the Florida Senior Legal Helpline program around the state, the Department partners with Bay Area Legal Services, Inc., of Tampa. The helpline is available each weekday. More information is available here.
Legal Assistance and the Florida Elder Law Program
Legal assistance for Floridians who would not otherwise have the means to obtain a lawyer are provided by a network non-profit, public-interest law firms. Title III of the Older Americans Act makes funds available specifically for legal assistance to the elderly, 60 years of age and older. Therefore, it is important to contact the legal provider directly to determine possible eligibility for assistance. Legal assistance providers may be identified here.
Lawyer Referral Service
The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service and local bar association lawyer referral services assist consumers in connecting with trusted, verified attorneys. You can reach the statewide service online at LRS.FloridaBar.org, or toll-free at 1-800-342-8011. Under the Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service, lawyers charge clients $25 (local bar-sponsored program charges range from $20 to $50) for the initial half-hour office consultation. After the first 30 minutes, fees are negotiable, based on the client’s ability to pay.
“Certified” Elder Law Practitioners
Elder law is a recognized area of practice in Florida. Attorneys specializing in elder law are familiar with the special needs and problems facing elders. Attorneys who are certified by the Florida Bar in “Elder Law” can be located on the Bar’s website here. Certification is not required to practice elder law.