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Research guides

Self-Help

Elder Law

Introduction

"Elder law" is a broad legal term that can include a range of legal issues that relate to an aging population. These issues may include estate planning, financial planning, Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, guardianship, housing, and more.

If you wish to conduct your own research on any of these matters at Jenkins Law Library, please check our catalog or ask a librarian where to find materials on your particular topic. We have also included some additional resources below.

Elder Justice & Civil Resource Center - Philadelphia

The Elder Justice & Civil Resource Center ("The Center") is a court-operated resource center located in City Hall. The Center provides assistance for all Philadelphians in civil court matters, with a focus on serving individuals 60 and older and self represented litigants. Managed by the First Judicial District Office of Judicial Records, Civil Division, the Center offers the following assistance:

  • Provides information on court processes and procedures
  • Refers seniors and self-represented litigants to legal service providers and services
  • Connects individuals with volunteer attorney and law student programs that provide legal advice and consultations (by appointment only and subject to availability)
  • Guides beginners through Civil and Orphans’ Court e-filing systems
  • Assists newly appointed guardians with annual and inventory report filing
  • Shares forms and information on topics of interest to elders and self-represented litigants

Location: Room 278, City Hall

Hours: Monday - Friday, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Legal Aid & Support for Older Pennsylvanians

SeniorLAW Center 
Seeks justice for Pennsylvanians age 60 and older through legal representation, education, and advocacy. Provides a wide range of civil legal services in Philadelphia and surrounding counties, in the areas of housing, family law, elder abuse, financial exploitation, consumer protection, and advance planning.

In Philadelphia, call 215-988-1242 for phone intake, Monday - Thursday, 10am - 12pm. The statewide SeniorLAW Helpline is 1-877-PA SR LAW (1-877-727-7529), Monday - Thursday, 10am - 12pm. See their Accessing Our Services page for phone numbers by county and for current office hours 

CARIE: Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly 
Promotes the well-being, rights, and autonomy of older adults through advocacy, education, and action. The CARIE LINE (215-545-5728) is a “free, one-on-one telephone and online service that assists older adults and their caregivers identify and access needed services and supports on any issue an elder may be facing, including health insurance coverage, housing, health resources, nutritional support, long term care services, housing, transportation, abuse and neglect, financial exploitation and many more." Call Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm. Also offers a victim assistance program, PAVE (Providing Advocacy for Victimized Elderly).

Pennsylvania Department of Aging
Information for senior citizens including health and wellness programs, home and community based services, prescription assistance programs, and other local resources. Also see the Department's page on the Older Pennsylvanians Legal Assistance Program, including links to the Area Agency on Aging Locator

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA)  
Aims "to improve the quality of life for older Philadelphians and those with disabilities and to assist them in achieving the greatest possible levels of health, independence and productivity." See PCA's Accessing Services page to learn more about services, including legal services and advocacy. To report suspected older adult abuse, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040

Also see the Free or Low-Cost Legal Assistance and/or Find a Lawyer pages of this guide.

Brochures & Forms

Advance Health Care Directive: PA Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will Allegheny County Bar Association 
Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will brochure endorsed by doctors and lawyers in Pennsylvania. Includes a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will form with instructions.

Elder Abuse Bench Book: Pennsylvania The Advisory Council on Elder Justice in the Courts and The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts 
A practical resource for learning about elder abuse, signs of abuse or neglect, related laws, and how the Courts can play a role in preventing or decreasing such abuse. Although it is written for judges, it has information that may be helpful for anyone.

Elder Law PALawHelp.org 
Includes legal information, referrals to legal service providers, and other information organized by sub-topics.

Guardianship Bench Book: PennsylvaniaThe Advisory Council on Elder Justice in the Courts and The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts 
A practical guide for navigating the various aspects of the guardianship process. Although it is written for judges, it has information and sample forms (for a list of forms, see page xi) that may be helpful for anyone. It covers topics such as alternatives to guardianship, petitions for guardianship, emergency guardianships, and more

Guide to Legal Issues for PA Senior Citizens Pennsylvania Bar Association
Topics covered include financial planning, estate planning, power of attorney, social security, and Medicare. PDF document.

Also see FAQ pamphlets on Recognizing and Preventing Identity Theft, Estate Planning, Issues on Aging, Living Wills/Health Care Powers of Attorney, and Understanding When Grandparents and Other Can Seek Custody. PDF documents.

The Truth About Probate and Living Trusts in Pennsylvania Allegheny County Bar Association 
Booklet created to "alleviate the confusion about living trusts and probate, and to protect consumers from purchasing a product that might not be right for them." Answers various questions about probate in PA. 

Other Online Resources

AARP Pennsylvania AARP
Law-related articles and resources for retired persons and family members in Pennsylvania.

Nursing Care Facility Locator Page Pennsylvania Dept. of Health
Can search by county, city, or zip code.