DPHHS To Provide Legal Document Clinics April Through July
Glasgow’s Clinic Will Be July 20
May 3, 2023
The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced its annual Kelly Moorse Memorial Legal Document Clinic schedule for 2023 which will include stops in Columbus, Dillon, Havre, Poplar, and Glasgow.
The clinics are provided by the DPHHS Legal Services Developer Program, and will make a stop at the Glasgow Senior Center, 328 4th Ave. S., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., July 20.
“This is a free service DPHHS provides to Montanans in need of preparing legal documents,” said DPHHS Legal Services Developer Program Director Katy Lovell. “It’s so important to complete this work well ahead of a medical emergency, and to review the documents on a regular basis to ensure they are kept current.”
The Legal Services Developer Program serves older adults aged 60 and older, enrolled Tribal members and adults with disabilities. At the clinics, legal professionals volunteer to assist participants in completing their estate planning documents, and assist older adults draft, review, notarize and copy each document.
According to DPHHS, a major reason for senior exploitation in Montana is the lack of knowledge of estate planning documents such as Powers of Attorney (POAs), guardianships, living wills and health directives.
The clinics are comprised of a one-day training session for community members to learn how to screen for senior exploitation, and, on the second day, a clinic is held where trained legal professionals assist senior participants in completing their estate planning documents.
“Those exploiting seniors often use a POA to control a senior’s entire life, even though the document does not legally grant them this ability,” Lovell said.
In calendar year 2022, a total of 944 cases were opened, involving 3,295 legal issues.
The most legal assistance requested in FY 2022 were: Estate planning, abuse/neglect and exploitation, landlord/tenant, probate, guardianships, Medicaid eligibility, collections/garnishments, social security and contract issues.
During the clinics, staff and volunteers not only educate seniors, but also financial, health care, and law enforcement professionals on what Powers of Attorney do and do not allow. The clinics present an important opportunity to reach seniors and communities and provide an access point to report and disclose financial exploitation, abuse and neglect.
Lovell said estate planning services are also available year round through phone clinics at no cost. In 2022, the program completed over 2,450 documents through in-person clinics and over the phone.
Lovell said financial exploitation of seniors is a major problem in the nation and in Montana, especially when considering the state’s large senior population.
“Financial exploitation presents a significant threat to older Americans, their families and financial institutions,” Lovell said. “Addressing exploitation and preventing it provides benefits to institutions and consumers alike.”
The average victim of exploitation loses $120,000 Lovell noted.
“It is important for anyone who suspects financial exploitation has or is occurring that individuals contact DPHHS - Adult Protective Services (APS) immediately,” Lovell said. “APS works to protect the senior from further harm. Often when financial exploitation is occurring, abuse is also present.”
To make a report go to http://www.aps.mt.gov or call 1-844-277-9300.
Space is limited and appointments must be made in advance of the clinics. To register for the in-person clinics, contact Lovell at 406-444-7787 or 1-800-332-2272.