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Elder Law & Advocacy Center Guiding Your Plans

Neighborhood Legal Services Michigan-Elder Law & Advocacy Center is geared up to assist families with estate planning for themselves and their elder loved ones, especially if there is a second wave of COVID-19.

“Estate planning documents record your wishes regarding health care, finances, and after- life preferences,” says ELAC Managing Attorney Erma Thomas.

She says that, in the event of death, it may help families avoid probate court - and more importantly, avoid family conflicts.

ELAC offers free legal services to Wayne County residents age 60 and over, or their caregivers. Those interested in estate planning documents must attend a First Tuesday presentation, offered each month on Zoom via the internet or by telephone. For issues other than estate planning, clients may contact the office Mon. – Fri. from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

“The first Tuesday presentations review important legal documents that seniors, people caring

for seniors, and non-parent caregivers should have in place,” Thomas says.

Those who register by calling prior to the presentations receive the Zoom link or call-in number. Upon registering, clients are asked to submit an agency intake form. Following the presentation, clients can select the documents they wish to have drafted. The documents will be either mailed or emailed, and once the worksheets are returned, an attorney is assigned to the case.

Thomas says the office handles multiple issues, including advice on nursing homes, qualifying for Medicaid, landlord/tenant and consumer matters, guardianship/ conservatorship, and preparation of powers of attorney and advance directives. The agency does not handle criminal, divorce, or bankruptcy.

“Elder abuse situations are given the highest priority,” Thomas adds, “and because family caregivers are under a great deal of stress, we provide education on prevention and address suspected financial exploitation, physical or emotional abuse or self-neglect.”

Thomas says ELAC’s sister agency, Great Lakes Legal- Mediation, helps families resolve conflicts and avoid the intrusive, costly legal system.

The process guides families to the best solution for the older adult with a plan that everyone can live with. Services are provided on a sliding scale.

For information, call ELAC at 313.937.8291 or visit and search elder-law programs.

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