Legal Services

We provide free legal advice and information to seniors throughout Alameda County, including: Oakland, Hayward, Berkeley, Pleasanton, Fremont, Livermore, Castro Valley, Alameda, Dublin, Emeryville, Albany, San Lorenzo, Union City, and Newark.

Our free services include: representation in court and administrative hearings, referrals to other community resources, and community education and training on legal issues.

Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a widespread problem that affects men, women and families from all backgrounds.

Elder abuse is a crime, but it can remain hidden for many reasons. Sadly, it’s common for the abuser to be a family member, and the victim may be reluctant to take action. Or the abuser may be someone on whom an elder relies for care. Many victims are ashamed to admit that they have fallen prey to abuse. Or a frail victim’s confusion, difficulties in communicating, or other limitations may prevent discovery of the abuse.

Between 1 and 2 million Seniors in the US have been abused by a caregiver.

LAS works closely with Adult Protective Services, the District Attorney’s Office, the courts, and law enforcement to assist Alameda County residents who are victims of physical, emotional or financial elder abuse. Our clients may be referred by other agencies or find us on their own. Sometimes concerned friends or family members may be the first to make contact.

Since prevention is the best solution for elder abuse, LAS offers an extensive program of community education presentations on topics related to elder abuse. Our services help elder abuse victims to live free from the trauma, mental anguish and financial devastation wrought by abusers.

LAS handled over 265 abuse cases last year.

LAS may provide the following services to seniors who are victims of elder abuse:

  • Representation by a staff attorney for seniors over age 65, or dependent adults, who are seeking a restraining order against an abuser.
  • Home visits to clients who are unable to come to our offices.
  • Facilitating removal of individuals who are physically abusive and living in an elder’s home, through a court-issued “kickout” order.
  • Referrals to community resources for additional services.
  • Community education presentations on related topics.

Guardianship of Minor Children

The LAS Guardianship Program is designed to assist Alameda County residents who are caring for someone else’s minor child in their homes. Our clients are usually grandparents or other relatives, many of the children in their care are victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment by their parents. Thanks to the dedication of their guardians, these children can stay within their own families instead of becoming wards of the Court and placed in foster care.

Many of our clients have very limited resources, and often there is ongoing concern that an unstable parent will remove the minor from the caregivers’ home. Caregivers need the legal authority of a guardianship to provide a stable and healthy environment, and to access needed financial and social support.

LAS can assist with:

  • Legal advice on guardianship and guardianship alternatives, such as caregiver affidavits.
  • Representation by a staff attorney of guardianship petitioners in probate court. Clients must be:
    • Alameda County residents.
    • Age 50 or older (unless referred through Child Protective Services’ diversion program).
    • Currently caring for a minor child/children in their home.
  • Assistance, without court representation, to self-represented individuals of any age who are participants in an Alameda County guardianship proceeding.
  • Advice and referrals to other agencies for social services and financial support.
    Community education about guardianship and guardianship alternatives.

Public Benefits/Social Security

Many older Alameda County residents are dependent on their income from Social Security Retirement or on needs-based public benefits programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Any interruption or reduction of benefits may result in inability to pay for basic necessities, including housing, food, and medical care when one may have only minimal cash resources to provide a “cushion”. It can be hard for an individual to challenge an agency decision, even when the decision is plainly wrong. It may prove impossible for an individual even to make contact with the appropriate person within the agency.

A timely decision can make a critical difference in a senior’s ability to meet or maintain basic living necessities.

LAS may provide the following services to seniors who receive Social Security Retirement or public benefits:

  • Analysis and review of benefits issues, including overpayment assessments and reduction or cessation of benefits.
  • Advice to individuals who are able to pursue their claim independently.
  • Assistance with filing appeals, negotiating settlements, and persevering with the responsible agency to ensure an appropriate and timely resolution.
  • Representation at formal and informal administrative hearings.
  • Community education presentations on related topics.

Naturalization

Alameda County is ethnically and culturally diverse. Many senior immigrants in Alameda County desire U.S. citizenship and would benefit from citizen status. An elderly person may face special challenges that prevent them from successfully navigating the immigration process however.

LAS provides the following assistance to Alameda County Seniors who are applying for citizenship:

  • Assistance with reviewing and filing an application for citizenship.
  • Assistance obtaining a waiver of the English language interview and/or the civics test in cases where the client is unable, for medical reasons, to meet the language requirement.
  • Collaboration with client’s medical and or psychiatric or psychological providers in applying for a disability waiver.
  • Representation at the citizenship interview and in subsequent agency proceedings.
  • Community education presentations on related topics.

Conservatorship

LAS is court-appointed to represent proposed conservatees in Alameda County probate conservatorship proceedings. LAS attorneys represent and advocate for the rights of seniors during these proceedings to ensure that their dignity and independence are maintained while their needs are being met. The only way in which LAS gets involved in conservatorship cases is by appointment by the court. LAS does not take any conservatorship cases from the general public.

Unfortunately, LAS cannot give any legal advice or recommendations regarding conservatorship to the general public as it potentially creates a conflict of interests for LAS. If you have questions regarding probate conservatorship, please contact self-help at the courts or a private probate attorney who can assist you in the process.

Health Law/Medi-Cal/Medi-Care

LAS provides health law services through our Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP). Learn more here >>

Have questions? Contact us today for information and assistance.

* While LAS is committed to serving seniors and other persons in need, LAS is not a primary responder. In situations that require immediate medical, police or emergency services intervention, please call 911 for assistance.