Idaho Senior Legal Guidebook
Basic Information about Idaho’s Laws for Seniors
Seniors and their family, friends, neighbors and caregivers will find this Guide helpful. The Guide gives general information about legal issues that seniors frequently encounter. It also offers practical options about where to look and who to call for more detailed information.
You may need to talk to a lawyer about your unique situation.
This Guide gives general information on legal issues. No guidebook can cover every single legal issue or substitute for an opinion from an attorney about your unique case.
However, we hope that this Guide will give you a better understanding of what to expect, what questions to ask an attorney, and what you can do next. This Guidebook was published in June, 2011. Laws and contact information may have changed since then.
Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc. wrote this Guidebook.
Guidebook generously supported by the Greater Boise Rotary Foundation, the Justice Alliance for Vulnerable Adults (JAVA), and a Community Outreach Grant from the United States District and Bankruptcy Court for the District of Idaho.
Your Lawyer: Do you need one?
Your Safety: Know about Elder Abuse
Your Money: Scams, Contracts, Debt, Bankruptcy, Benefits, Income
Your Health: Medicare, Medicaid, Paying for Long-Term Care
Your Home: Renters’ Rights, Evictions, Repairs, Foreclosure
Your Future: Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Wills, Probate
Your Family: Guardianships, Grandchildren, Divorce
Your Rights: Legal “Self Defense” Tips, Court System Basics
Do You Need a Lawyer?
If you are low-income and meet our eligibility requirements, Idaho Legal Aid Services may be able to help you.
Depending on your unique situation, we may be able to give you legal advice over the telephone, mail legal information to you, or perform other brief legal services. We may also refer you to a private attorney or an Idaho Legal Aid Services staff attorney for more extended representation.
Know about Elder Abuse
Elder abuse has many forms. Abuse can mean any mistreatment of a senior, such as bodily injury, threats, confinement, abandonment, neglect, unwanted sexual contact, or financial exploitation. Neighbors and friends might see signs such as a senior’s severe weight loss, dehydration, or even bruises and broken bones. They might see a senior giving away large amounts of money and suspect someone is taking advantage of him or her.
Putting a Stop to Financial Exploitation
“I notice my neighbor giving lots of her money away…and now she isn’t able to pay her bills.”
“My brother is taking mom’s Social Security and buying things for himself .”
Financial exploitation includes scams, misuse of a senior’s property, undue influence over how a senior spends money, and outright theft. Some signs to look out for:
County Assistance for Medical Emergencies
If you cannot afford hospital care and medicine, the county may temporarily help you pay for necessary medical services if you really have no other way of paying (as a “last resort”). Ask for an application at your County Courthouse as soon as you think you might need help. The county may ask you to repay the money in small payments over time or may attach a lien to your house. If you are denied, you must ask for an appeal hearing within 28 days. Contact Idaho Legal Aid Services for a more detailed brochure about County Assistance eligibility and applications.
Medicare is not Medicaid!
Renter’s Rights & Options
Looking for a new place to rent?
Idahoans can get lists of available rentals at 1-877-428-8844 or www.housingidaho.com.
Need help paying rent?
There are several different Federal Housing Programs. Some give you a voucher to help pay rent in privately-owned apartments or houses. Other buildings are owned by a government agency that charges a reduced rent based on your ability to pay. Along with lower rent, renters in Federal Housing Programs enjoy certain rights,
Powers of Attorney & Advance Directives
Has a doctor, friend, or family member told you to give someone “power of attorney?” There are different kinds of documents (sometimes called “advance directives”) that let you appoint someone (an agent) to have the power to make important decisions on your behalf. The three most common types of advance directives have different purposes.
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Many seniors must step in to raise a grandchild or another child who is not their own. Sometimes they have difficulty proving they have authority to make decisions for the child. If you are taking care of a child, even for a short time, you should get written permission, signed by one of the parents in the form of a Parental Power of Attorney. You can show this document to schools, hospitals and others to prove you are authorized to make decisions for the child. These forms are usually available for free at your county’s Court Assistance Office and also available for free at www.idaholegalaid.org.
Practice Legal “Self-Defense”
You can take steps to defend your rights with or without an attorney. You may prevent or solve problems if you practice “legal self-defense” and remember these lawyers’ “tricks of the trade”
Get a Quick Legal “Check-Up”
Avoid serious legal problems later by “checking up” on your legal documents today.
You may check some boxes yourself but talk to an attorney if you have any questions.