As we get older, many of us have some common concerns. We worry about job security and whether we’ll be able to pay our bills. We worry about our health and the ever-rising costs. We worry about long-term care, should we become unable to live independently. Instead of talking about what’s going on in the schools and how our kids are doing, we find ourselves discussing wills and future “what if” scenarios.

We wring our hands about the costs of health care and what we can do about it. Our friends ask if we’ve made a will yet. We’re faced with the reality of getting older and actually planning for it.

One agency which can provide answers and guidance toward solutions for some of these issues is Legal Services for the Elderly.

The agency provides persons age 60 and over with free legal advice regarding health care, health insurance, Medicare (including Part D), MaineCare (Medicaid), Social Security and other public benefits, pension and retirement benefits, powers of attorney, consumer matters including creditor and bankruptcy problems, physical and financial abuse, guardianship defense and other issues.

Legal Services for the Elderly began serving clients in 1974 and now has offices in five locations, Augusta, Bangor, Lewiston, Presque Isle and Scarborough.

LSE is a nonprofit organization and its funders include state and federal agencies, the Maine Area Agencies on Aging, the Maine Civil Legal Services Fund, the Maine Bar Foundation IOLTA Fund and Campaign for Justice, United Way of Greater Portland, Kennebec Valley United Way, Androscoggin United Way, York County United Way, the Muskie Dinner, and many private individuals.

Clients call the agency’s toll-free number, 1-800-750-5353, and talk with a Helpline attorney about their problems. If the Helpline attorney is unable to resolve a client’s problem, the client then is referred to a staff attorney at the agency’s office which is situated closest to the client’s town for extended representation.

If you would like information but don’t feel comfortable making that phone call, there are pamphlets available, free of charge, about the legal rights of Maine’s seniors.

Subjects covered include:

– Can I get help paying the costs of long term nursing care in Maine?

– Will I lose my home if I get Medicaid (MaineCare)?

– Do I need a will?

– Who will tell my doctor my health care choices when I’m too sick to do it?

– Who will help me pay my bills if something happens to me? (Using a Power of Attorney)

– A legal guide for recently widowed seniors (help in getting the car, house and bank account in your name; rules about paying deceased spouse’s bills)

– What happens if I can’t pay my bills?

– How should I handle a bad home repair deal?

– Grandchildren: What are my visitation rights?

For these and other issues, you may write to Legal Services for the Elderly, P. O. Box 2723, Augusta, ME 0438-2723, or call (800) 750-5353.

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