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The following articles were written by former Probate Judge Merri Rudd.

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Senior Legal Handbook

10:58 AM
Merri Rudd

Editor's note: This column may not be quoted or reproduced in whole or part without express written permission of the author.

The State Bar Lawyer Referral for the Elderly Program and New Mexico State Bar Foundation have published an updated "New Mexico Senior Legal Handbook." My fellow law school classmates and I compiled the first Senior Citizens Handbook in 1989, so it is delightful to finally have an updated and expanded edition dated August 2005.

The new version of the Handbook includes information about:

  • Financial Benefits Available to Seniors, including social security, disability, supplemental security income, veterans benefits, railroad worker benefits, state financial assistance, pension, tax and utility assistance;
  • Medicare, Medicaid and Other Long Term Care Benefits, including information about Medicare Part D low-income subsidies, prescription drug benefits, nursing facilities, long-term care planning, and comparisons of long-term care facilities;
  • Consumer Protection issues, including your rights as consumers; consumer transactions; credit purchases; contracts; shopping by phone, mail and the internet; warranties; consumer fraud; door to door sales; telephone solicitation; identifying various scams; and bankruptcy;
  • Housing topics, including public housing, landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities, eviction, and mobile home park living;
  • Property Ownership, including forms of property ownership, community property, deeds, capital gains tax breaks for homeowners, and borrowing against your home equity;
  • Health Care Decision-Making and Estate Planning, including end of life decision making, organ donation, funeral and cremation plans, powers of attorney, conservatorships and guardianships, wills, transfer on death deeds, beneficiary accounts, and probate;
  • Family Relationships, including grandparent rights, kinship guardianship, financial assistance, divorce, and domestic violence;
  • Special Caregiving Situations, including family caregiver support; Alzheimer's disease; home health care; hospice; caring for disabled adult children; and exploitation, abuse and neglect issues;
  • Insurance, including automobile, homeowners, life, and credit insurance; and
  • Discrimination, including overviews of New Mexico and federal laws.

Additional resources are listed at the end of each chapter.

The handbook provides an understandable overview of and introduction to various laws, legal issues, and programs. While this handbook is not intended to substitute for legal advice, it should help seniors, those who work with seniors, caretakers, and others know what programs and benefits are available federally and within New Mexico.

You can read the 131-page document for free on the web at www.nmbar.org. Click on "Publications/Media," then under "Public Resources" click on "New! Senior Legal Handbook." A PDF version of the manual should appear on your computer screen if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have access to the internet or Acrobat, you can read the Handbook for free on line at any public library. If you want to print a copy, you can download the PDF file from the web site and print it. I do not know if libraries charge for printing.
If you lack computer access, the State Bar's Lawyer Referral for the Elderly program has a very limited supply of hard copies of the Handbook still available for free. In Albuquerque, call 797-6005. Outside of Albuquerque, call 1-800-876-6657. Local senior citizens centers around New Mexico may also have limited copies on hand.


© 2006, Merri Rudd & Albuquerque Journal, All Rights Reserved

Appeared January 26, 2006, Albuquerque Journal, Business Outlook 

Reprinted with permission

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