"Law without justice is a wound without a cure." - William Scott Downey
Legal Aid of North Carolina – Senior Law Project
The High Country Area Agency on Aging offers legal services through a contract with Legal Aid of North Carolina's Senior Law Project. The Senior Law Project operates the Senior Legal Helpline, which offers free civil legal help to North Carolinians who are 60 years of age or older. Please note that priority is given to older adults with the greatest social and economic need.
The Senior Legal Helpline helps with the following:
- Wills & Living Wills
- Powers of Attorney
- Healthcare POA
- Home Ownership
- Mortgage Foreclosure
- Physical Abuse
- Financial Exploitation
- Fraud and Scams
- SNAP (Food Stamps)
- Social Security & SSI
- Veteran's Benefits
Legal Aid of North Carolina's Senior Legal Helpline can answer general legal questions and offer advice specific to each situation. The lawyers can write letters and make phone calls to help you resolve your problem. In addition, they can review legal documents with you, clarify issues, and provide options. If your situation needs further attention, the Senior Legal Helpline can refer you to a local Legal Aid office or to pro bono attorneys if necessary.
Legal Aid of North Carolina - Senior Legal Helpline
Available Monday-Friday: 9-11 a.m. & 1-3 p.m.
1-877-579-7562 or apply via the Legal Aid website
If under the age of 60, call 1-866-219-5262.
Common Legal Questions for Older Adults
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that directs where you want your property to go at your death. Any person over the age of 18 of sound mind may make a will.
What happens if I die without a Will?
If someone passes without a will, property is distributed through the laws of intestate succession to your heirs in the order that your state's laws direct.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document that allows you to control the decision about whether your life should be prolonged by certain medical procedures if you are suffering from one of three conditions:
- Incurable or irreversible condition;
- Unconsciousness, and to a high degree of medical certainty you will not regain consciousness; or
- Advanced dementia or another condition which results in a substantial loss of cognitive ability and to a high degree of medical certainty the loss is not reversible.
What are Advanced Directives?
Advanced directives are legal documents that help you and your loved ones make decisions if/when you are unable to do so, including Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, and Living Wills.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is legal document in which you give someone (known as your agent) the legal authority to take certain actions for you regarding financial decisions.
When does a Power of Attorney go into effect?
A Durable Power of Attorney, according to the 2018 North Carolina Uniform Power of Attorney Act, goes into effect immediately and remains in effect during incapacity or incompetence. A Springing Power of Attorney is effective only once the person becomes incapacitated or incompetent.
What powers can I give my Power of Attorney agent?
You can give your agent power over any of the following: Real Property; Tangible Personal Property; Stocks and Bonds; Commodities and Options; Banks and Other Financial Institutions; Operation of Entity or Business; Insurance and Annuities; Estates, Trusts, and Other Beneficial Interests; Claims and Litigation; Personal and Family Maintenance; Benefits from Governmental Programs or Civil or Military Service; Retirement Plans; Taxes; All preceding subjects
What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?
A Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you give someone the power to make medical decisions for you if you are not competent or if you are not able to communicate your wishes.
When does a Health Care Power of Attorney come into effect?
A Health Care Power of Attorney comes into effect only when a physician you have named or your attending physician (if the one that you have named is not available) determines that you lack capacity to make or communicate decisions relating to your health care, unless your Health Care Power of Attorney agreement states otherwise.
What authority does my Health Care Power of Attorney agent have?
The Health Care Power of Attorney Agent has the ability to make and carry out all health care decisions and mental health decisions for you, unless you limit their ability.
Legal Aid of North Carolina Brochure: Safekeeping and Use of Your Legal Documents (PDF)