Elder Law Project
The North Mississippi Rural Legal Services Elder Law Project, directed by Catherine V. “Ginny” Kilgore is one of the special projects developed by NMRLS to provide civil legal services that make a difference in North Mississippi. The mission of the project is to ensure availability of legal assistance for all elderly people in need. The NMRLS Elder Law Project provides services at no charge to elderly Mississippians, age 60 and over; works in partnership with six area agencies on aging to provide legal assistance to clients in 39 counties in the northern half of the State of Mississippi: Represents clients in civil legal matters such as denial of Medicaid nursing home benefits; directs an Elder Law Clinic as part of the University of Mississippi School of Law Civil Legal Clinic; conducts community outreach to the institutionalized and homebound elderly and disabled to provide legal assistance; conducts community legal education workshops for the public and for service providers held at senior centers, churches, and other locations in the communities; participates in senior fairs and other group events; conducts “willdays” and other outreach activities to provide on-site contact with clients in rural sections of the state; prepares written materials and brochures for community education purposes for distribution at outreach sites and on-line on important health law, consumer, estate matters and other elder law topics; investigates elder law topics and services; cooperates with other governmental agencies, educational institutions and community organizations to provide legal assistance to the elderly and disabled; provides training for law students, and other service providers to the elderly, including the annual NMRLS Elder Law Conference. The dollar impact to the clients for the project casework for the most recent fiscal year was approximately $800,000. This amount is almost 8 times the amount of specific funding received by NMRLS for the project through grants for legal assistance to the elderly. During the same time period, under the six (6) annual Area Agency on Aging contracts the Elder Law Project conducted 32 community programs with 1622 people in attendance.
Project Director Ginny Kilgore received the National Aging and Law Award at the 2011 National Aging and Law Institute on November 11, 2011, in Boston, MA. This is the first time a Mississippian has received this award.
Annual Elder Law Conference
North Mississippi Rural Legal Services’ Elder Law Project conducts the Elder Law Conference each year at the University of Mississippi School of Law. The conference provides lawyers, social workers and other professionals with the tools to assist elders to live independently and with dignity. Speakers from across the state discussed legal issues impacting Mississippi’s aging population. The 2016 Elder Law Conference will be conducted on August 12, 2016. It is approved for attorney and social work continuing education credit. Approximately 150 attorneys, social workers and aging professionals are expected to attended the conference.
Senior Consumer Protection Conference
On September 10, 2015 a Consumer Fraud Prevention Workshop was presented to an audience of 39 members of the general public from Monroe and surrounding counties. Speakers included public officials, the Mayor of Aberdeen and the Sheriff of Monroe County. NMRLS Attorneys and the State Health Insurance Counselor from The Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging also presented on consumer protection issues.
2015/2016 Elder Law Clinic
Students enrolled in the Elder Law Clinic work to enhance, protect and preserve the autonomy of older persons through direct legal services. Students provide a number of services to their clients, including drafting wills, preparing health care directives and powers of attorney, advising clients on Medicaid, Medicare, nursing home law, consumer issues, guardianship and conservatorship defense, and elder abuse and neglect, representing clients in administrative hearings and in court. The clinic also conducts outreach activities, including presenting community legal education seminars for the general public and for service providers. The Elder Law Clinic goes on the road to provide direct legal assistance in various locations throughout rural North Mississippi including community centers, libraries, nursing homes, hospitals and when necessary, clients’ homes.
Highlights of Past Elder Law Conference