When it comes to legal matters, there’s a whole set of terminology that may leave your head spinning. Picking apart the legalese may prove such a daunting task that we may even put off tending to important matters, which can be risky.
With so many details to take into consideration, it’s only natural to have questions. When it comes to Medicare, social security and veterans’ benefits; resident and patient rights; or income, estate and gift taxes; consultation with a qualified attorney, particularly an elder law specialist, may be advisable or even necessary.
The legal guidance that an attorney can provide helps ensure that you get the most out of your benefits and that your financial affairs continue to go smoothly in future years.
However, this type of legal advice can be expensive. The cost of the answers may exceed what you can realistically cover.
Accommodating for Free Legal Help
In cases like these, it’s important to know that relief is in sight. The Hawaii Online Pro Bono (HOP) is a nonprofit, web-based legal service hosted by the American Bar Association. HOP is an online version of a walk-in legal advice clinic where clients request advice and counsel about a specific legal issue from a volunteer attorney. The service is available to low- to moderate- income families and can be accessed by searching for “Hawaii Online Pro Bono” via web browser.
You must first answer a few questions that will determine whether or not you qualify: You must be an adult whose income and assets are low for your family size, you can’t already have access to a lawyer, your legal problem cannot be related to a criminal charge and you must not currently be incarcerated.
If you qualify, you can ask your legal question confidentially through the site. A volunteer attorney will email a response directly to you.
HOP helps to make legal advice more accessible, but before using this service, it is important to be aware of its limitations. They are laid out in detail in the online user agreement you must read before answering the first qualification question.
The main limitation — you can ask only three separate questions within a calendar year.
Questions involving criminal cases or charges cannot be answered through this service.
The service is meant only to provide answers to your legal questions; the volunteer lawyers cannot call or represent you in any way.
If further legal action is required for your situation, you will need to pursue your own attorney; however, the website includes a link that leads to contact information for other resources, including the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii and the American Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service for Hawaii.