MEDIA CONTACT:  Diane Curtis   415-538-2028

San Francisco, May 01, 2009 — A new version of the State Bar’s popular Seniors & the Law: A Guide for Maturing Californians – which answers such questions as, “Will I lose my Social Security benefits if I keep working?” “Can the DMV limit my driving rights?” and “Can I be evicted if my landlord loses the apartment in a foreclosure?” – is being reissued for 2009 Law Day.


The free guide speaks directly to seniors and their grown children on a wide range of law-related topics that affect California’s seniors in their daily lives — from housing options to health care issues to elder abuse to estate planning and government assistance. It adheres to the goal of Law Day, created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, to celebrate the rule of law and liberty, justice and equality.

“The information in this guide can help seniors stay in charge of their lives for as long as possible,” said Helen Karr, who became an attorney at age 64 and researched and helped develop the publication. “In the current economic crisis, it’s even more crucial that seniors know their legal rights, and the resources and options available to them.”

With more than 4 million residents age 65 or older, California is the most senior-populated state in the nation —and the ranks are growing. So, too, are the many laws related to seniors and the many programs geared for them.

“Seniors need to be aware of the many ways in which con artists and abusers may try to harm them, particularly during these difficult times,” said Karr, a former member of California’s Commission on Aging.

Written by Kristina Flaherty, Seniors & the Law was partially funded with a $65,000 grant from the California Bar Foundation and is the third guide in a three-part series published by the State Bar. Each spring, on a rotating schedule, the State Bar publishes one of its guides in celebration of Law Day.

The other two guides are When You Become 18: A Survival Guide for Teenagers, which was last published in 2008, and Kids and the Law: An A-to-Z Guide for Parents, which will be updated in 2010.

Since the creation of Seniors & the Law six years ago, some 2.5 million copies have been distributed free of charge in various languages. (The 2009 version is available in English and Spanish.)

In addition, more than 40 senior forums and events have been held statewide to give seniors an opportunity to further explore the many topics covered in the popular guide and to question experts in various fields.

Additional topic areas addressed in Seniors & the Law include:

  • CHOOSING WHERE TO LIVE. Can I be evicted if my landlord loses my apartment in a foreclosure? Can a younger person live with me in an age-restricted senior housing development?
  • OBTAINING HEALTH CARE AND BENEFITS. Can I get health insurance after my retirement? How is Medi-Cal different from Medicare? As a veteran, am I entitled to additional health benefits?
  • PLANNING AHEAD. How can I help ensure that my affairs will be handled my way if I become incapacitated? What is a revocable living trust? Will my beneficiaries’ inheritance be taxed?
  • GETTING AROUND. Can the DMV simply limit my driving rights rather than revoke my license? Are there any special accommodations for me if I am disabled or unable to drive?
  • HANDLING ELDER ABUSE. What should I do if I suspect someone is abusing or exploiting an elderly friend? What can I do to protect myself from an abusive caregiver or spouse?
  • GETTING DIVORCED AND REMARRIED. If I get divorced, can I still get Social Security benefits on my husband’s work record? Will I pay higher taxes if I remarry?
  • RAISING YOUR GRANDCHILDREN. Do I have any rights if my grandchild winds up in the foster care system? Should I seek guardianship of my grandchildren if I am raising them?
  • FINDING A CAREGIVER OR NURSING HOME. How do I find help for my elderly mother who wants to continue living in her home? If my elderly mother gives away her assets, will Medi-Cal pay for a nursing home? Is there any assistance available if I take time off work to care for my ailing mother?

Orders for Seniors & the Law should be sent to .

The new publication is available in English and Spanish and all copies are free. Please specify the number of guides (there are no restrictions on amounts) and language versions desired and include a complete mailing address. (P.O. boxes are not acceptable.) While shipping charges also are free, contributions are always acceptable, especially for larger orders. If you do not have access to the internet, please call toll-free 1-888-875-LAWS for a regular U.S. Postal Service Mailing address to send your request.

Founded in 1927 by the state legislature, the State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By May 2009, membership reached more than 222,000.