Nonprofit legal team gets grant to continue services to elderly LBGT

By | 2018-01-15T17:53:06-05:00 December 20th, 2007|News|

LANSING– Elder Law of Lansing had an idea last year. The not for profit legal clinic, begun in 1990 to assist seniors with legal questions ranging from probate issues to medicaid, noticed that a lot of older lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender seniors were reluctant to address many of their issues with the group’s traditional law line.
So the group started an LBGT hotline, executive director Kate White said. “We were expecting about 100 calls.”
Instead, the hotline with very little advertising took in 226 calls. White said she was “gratified” the group was there to assist.
As a result of this, the group has been honored with a $5,000 HOPE Fund grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
“We know there are pople out there with problems that are nagging at them, but they don’t know how to get started in addressing them,” White said.
The groups traditional hotline served 5,000 seniors last year.
She said the staff working the hotline have a combined experience of 25 years working with LBGT issues and the law. The issues that LBGT seniors are bringing to the hotline, though, are not all that different from the issues of straight seniors.
Wills, powers of attorney, navigating the medicaid/medicare or other healthcare systems, pensions and pension rights and consumer issues all rank up there in terms of issues the staff fielded this last year.
“We had lots of calls from people trying to navigate the medicare system for their parents; or a friend,” White said.
She also said the group has been fielding a lot of calls regarding money issues. “All walks of life are struggling with that, a lot of people are in deep financial trouble. So we are getting a lot of calls about unfair sales practices and harassment by creditors.”
In addition, the group has worked to provide LBGT specific legal advice regarding partnership rights. “Without the legal safeguards, people in a domestic partner relationship where one partner works and the other stays home could be in a serious crisis if the wage earner dies,” White said. “That person who stayed home could find themselves without access to their home, bank account and more. It can be really devastating and planning is critical to preventing that.”
White said that while the hotline is tailored for older LBGT residents, the group will answer questions from anyone.
“There is no question we will not listen to and try to the find the answer,” she said.

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