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There are many sources of free legal information and advice; for example, you may be able to find the information you need through a helpline or on the internet. In some situations you will need to see a solicitor, but you may be able to get the help you need from an advice agency or another organisation.
One of the commonest reasons older people look for legal advice is to set up formal arrangements to organise their affairs. These include wills‚ to establish what happens to your estate after your death; estate planning during your lifetime‚ to minimise tax liabilities and achieve any other objectives you have; and arrangements to manage your affairs if you no longer have the mental capacity to do so yourself.
As a general rule you do not need a solicitor to validate any formal documentation but you should consider how comfortable you are dealing with these matters and also what the consequences will be if you make a mistake. Solicitors and other professionals usually have insurance that you can claim against if they commit an error. If you do the work yourself‚ you will not have this protection.
Advice agencies: You may not need to go to a solicitor to get the advice and assistance you need. Using a solicitor can be very expensive. A general advice agency such as your local Age Concern or Age UK, Citizens Advice Bureau‚ or another independent advice agency‚ may be able to provide free information and advice to help you resolve your problem. They can sometimes also provide specialist advice and representation. If not‚ they should be able to refer you on to someone else who can help.
Trade unions: If you are a member of a trade union you may be able to get free legal advice through the union‚ and not just on issues relating to your employment. You should contact your union to find out what they can offer.Financial advice: Access to legal advice is also offered as a benefit of some bank accounts‚ insurance policies and other products. Check the terms and conditions of any you hold to see whether you qualify for such a service.Law Centres: Law Centres provide free independent legal advice from solicitors‚ in areas of social welfare law such as welfare rights‚ discrimination law‚ housing‚ employment and community care.
Solicitors for Older People Scotland (SOPS) is a group of Scottish Law firms dedicated to providing legal services to older people in a caring and sensitive way, and working in partnership with Age Scotland. All SOPS members have signed up to a Code of Practice intended to make older people more comfortable in dealing with lawyers.
For details of your local SOPS solicitor or to order their information pack, which includes their 'Handy Guides for Older People,' call Age Scotland on 0845 833 0200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Age Scotland, Causewayside House, 160 Causewayside, Edinburgh EH9 1PR. Registered number 153343. Charity number SC010100. © Age UK Group and/or its National Partners (Age NI, Age Scotland and Age Cymru) 2013. All Rights Reserved
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