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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Become a Friend of the Commission and Receive Extra Benefits

Help us to continue our mission-critical efforts that make a dramatic difference in the lives of older Americans. Learn more about the benefits of becoming a Friend of the commission.

Free Law and Aging Resources

Assisting Cognitively Impaired Individuals with Voting: A Quick Guide

Difficulties in communication can occur when assisting a voter who has a cognitive impairment. The techniques and tips described in this guide will help make sure that your communication is as effective as possible and within the limits of assistance permitted by election laws.

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The Health Care Advance Planning Packet

A trio of free resources to walk you through three steps of advance planning. Explore this invaluable health planning resource!

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Why am I left in the waiting room? Understanding the Four C’s of Elder Law Ethics

This consumer-friendly brochure explains the “Four C’s” of elder law ethics—client identification, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, and capacity. It helps family members understand the relationship between a lawyer and an older client. Updated in January 2020. For orders of 100 or more copies, please use the promo code AGBULK100 for a discounted price of $0.50 per brochure.

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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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The PRACTICAL Tool

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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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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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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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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