BIFOCAL, A Journal of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging

BIFOCAL, the ABA Commission's bi-monthly journal, provides timely, valuable legal resources pertaining to older persons, generated through the joint efforts of public and private bar groups and the aging network. Read the current issue, view the recent archive, or view the extended archive.

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Free Law and Aging Resources


The PRACTICAL Tool aims to help lawyers identify and implement decision-making options for persons with disabilities that are less restrictive than guardianship. “PRACTICAL” is an acronym for nine steps for lawyers to identify these options. The lawyer can use the PRACTICAL checklist of steps during the client interview and immediately after to assist in case analysis. The steps blend in naturally with the case interview process. Lawyers serving in different roles may use the steps differently.

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Capacity Assessment Guides for Judges and Lawyers

The Judges Capacity Handbook contains practical tools to equip a wide audience of judges to conduct any form of guardianship proceeding more effectively. Includes links to expanded information, work sheets, and model forms. The Lawyers Capacity Handbook offers ideas and makes suggestions for attorneys who wish to balance the competing goals of autonomy and protection as they confront the difficult challenges of working with older adults with problems in decision-making capacity.

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Legal Issues Related to Elder Abuse: Guides for Law Enforcement

The Pocket Guide provides brief explanations of legal concepts, documents, and tools that may be misused to commit elder abuse or used properly to remedy it, and issues and actions that justice system professionals should consider if they suspect elder abuse has occurred. The Desk Guide provides more information about Pocket Guide topics, as well as additional resources including: tips for communicating with older individuals, the differences between civil and criminal courts, and entities that may be involved with elder abuse victims or perpetrators. The Desk Guide Template Provides a template for state-specific adaptation of the Desk Guide.

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Giving Someone a Power of Attorney for Your Healthcare (multi-state guide and form)

Giving Someone a Power of Attorney for Your Health Care: A Guide with an Easy-to-Use, Multi-State Form for All Adults can be described as “bare bones” because it does not provide specific instructions about medical treatments, like most standardized health care advance directive forms do. Instead, it provides solely for the appointment of a health care agent with broad health-care decision-making authority.

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Volunteer Guardianship Monitoring Handbooks

Guardianship monitoring helps courts to manage risks, prevent abuse, and increase public confidence in the judicial system. Using trained and supervised volunteers extends the monitoring capacity of the court.

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Making Medical Decisions for Someone Else (proxy guide)

Making Medical Decisions for Someone Else describes in simple terms what it’s like to be a health care proxy, what to do while there’s still time to think about it, how to make the hard decisions, and where to get help. Also available, a state-specific guide for Maryland: Making Medical Decisions for Someone Else: A Guide for Marylanders Brochure or Handbook. Do you make health care decisions for someone else—or might at some future point?

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The Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning

Good advance planning for health care decisions is, in reality, a continuing conversation about values, priorities, the meaning of one's life, and quality of life. To help you in this process, this Tool Kit contains a variety of self-help worksheets, suggestions, and resources. There are currently 9 tools in all, each clearly labeled and user-friendly. The Tool Kit does not create a formal advance directive for you. Instead, it helps you do the much harder job of discovering, clarifying, and communicating what is important to you in the face of serious illness. Explore this invaluable health planning resource!

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Guardianship Restoration Report

With the Virginia Tech Center for Gerontology, the Commission on Law and Aging has released a new report with recommendations on Restoration of Rights in Adult Guardianship.

Managing Someone Else's Money Guides

Millions of Americans are managing money or property for a loved one who is unable to pay bills or make financial decisions. Here are four easy-to-understand booklets to help financial caregivers. Written by the Commission and published by the CFPB, the guides are for agents under powers of attorney, court-appointed guardians, trustees, and government fiduciaries (Social Security representative payees and VA fiduciaries).

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