Connecticut Appleseed’s Elder Law project gives Connecticut’s older adults of modest means, their families and caregivers an opportunity to learn more about the many legal and financial issues that confront them. After a 2005 symposium at Quinnipiac University School of Law offered a series of educational workshops on these issues, we distilled the information presented that day into Appleseed’s “Connecticut Elder Law Resources” book.
We substantially updated our book in late 2008. To date, its distribution of this document in a workshop setting at 45 senior centers throughout the state has helped more than 1,650 seniors to better understand their legal rights and entitlements and to assess their legal needs.
Many legal and financial issues facing seniors today are complex and confusing. Low and moderate-income seniors and their families all too often do not have affordable access to reliable and objective information regarding legal options, choices available to them, and choices they need to at least consider making.
Unfortunately, seniors are also frequently barraged with slanted information and high-pressure sales pitches regarding estate planning tools, “will kits” and a myriad of investment and insurance products. Appleseed’s assurance that all information would be presented in a non-commercial manner – deliverable through our relationship with the Connecticut Bar Association’s Elder Law section – is therefore a compelling project feature.
Leveraging Volunteered Legal Help for Seniors
Our project was originally launched on June 25, 2005 by a “Senior Citizens Law Day” symposium at Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, CT. Participating experts in Elder Law from across the state offered seminars related to Advance Directives, Wills and Trusts, Long-term Health Care and Prescription Drug Costs, Housing and Consumer Fraud. At the encouragement of Appleseed Board member and Quinnipiac Law Dean Brad Saxton, nine of those elder law attorneys volunteered to share their presentations in writing so that we could compile them into “Connecticut Elder Law Resources” (link to pdf) and distribute it widely.
Together with Connecticut Appleseed’s original collaborators, we held a second Senior Citizens Law Day in late 2008 at Quinnipiac University’s School of Law. Former Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (currently a U.S. Senator from Connecticut) was the keynote speaker. Since many of the pro bono attorneys who taught seminars at Law Day II had previously authored chapters in “Connecticut Elder Law Resources”, this event prompted the book’s thorough review and updating.
As a result, “Connecticut Elder Law Resources” remains an extremely valuable and timely resource for the workshops held during the final months of 2010 at senior centers in the New Haven area.
A Multi-Year Partnership with Pro Bono Attorneys and Municipal Senior Centers
Connecticut Appleseed’s distribution of “Connecticut Elder Law Resources” at attorney-led senior center workshops has already helped more than 1,650 seniors become more knowledgeable about their legal rights and assisted with their future-oriented legal planning. Connecticut Appleseed handles the scheduling of individual senior center visits by coordinating with volunteers from the Connecticut Bar Association’s Elder Law section.
Since several senior centers requested workshops on more than one elder law topic, this project has sponsored 60 individual workshops to date. Over the past few years our elder law education work has been supported by small grants from the NewAlliance Foundation, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Fairfield County Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven’s Women and Girls fund, the Washington Mutual Foundation and the Connecticut Community Foundation.