Legal FAQ (The Purple Book)

You may access the info in this manual by:
– browsing by clicking on chapter titles on the left
– searching for terms using the search field on the left
– downloading the entire electronic book in .pdf form here
This manual was made possible by a public interest law fellowship generously sponsored by the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest, for West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, Inc. (WVSLA). Funding and support was also provided by the federal Administration on Aging, Northwestern Area Agency on Aging, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services.
WVSLA is a non-profit organization that provides free civil legal services to needy West Virginians age 60 and older. Needy senior West Virginians can access our services at 1 (800) 229-5068. We are funded by the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, the federal Administration on Aging, the Northwestern Area Agency on Aging, and other grants and donations.

This manual contains only general legal information and is intended to provide an overview of the law for senior citizens. Complex laws and regulations have been simplified. Because your particular situation may warrant different actions and/or results, you should contact a lawyer about specific questions. For further assistance, please call West Virginia Senior Legal Aid at 1 (800) 229-5068.

Anyone is free to photocopy and share pages from this manual, as long as they are distributed for free and each page includes our footnote and contact information.

We hope this manual will empower needy senior West Virginians to make good legal decisions and to preserve their autonomy.

As with any other material of this type, this manual is intended to offer general legal information and guidance, not specific legal advice. Your particular circumstances are likely to be unique. You should contact an attorney for legal assistance for your specific legal problem.

West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, Inc., would like to acknowledge its appreciation for the special contributions made by everyone who devoted his or her time to the creation of the original manual and this updated and expanded edition. First, we thank Phil Wachowiak, our summer legal intern. Phil did a fantastic job, in a short period of time, editing, updating, and researching.

We thank the many people who have worked on previous editions of the manual, including Laura Lee Partington, West Peterson, Abbe Klezer, Rachel Livingood, Sarah McDaniel, Melanie Hoover, Lindsey Saad, Peggy Blanchard, Mindy Parsley, Cassandra Means, Terrilyn Cheatham, Paige Ward, Tonya Michael, Christine Krantz, Melissa Carlton, Velma McClure, Rocky Schrecongost, Megan Carpenter, Rhonda McIntyre, Laryn Ullman, Marc Ingham, Kirsten Nelson, Suzanne Messenger, and Bren Pomponio.

Special thanks to Nelson R. Liston II for many hours of technical assistance producing the web version of this update.

We also want to acknowledge and thank the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest at West Virginia University for the fellowship, which allowed Sarah to work on this manual. This fellowship has made the creation and maintenance of this manual a reality. We also thank the Carl Selinger Human Rights & Public Interest Fund, the federal Administration on Aging, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, and the Northwestern Area Agency on Aging for providing grant money, and the many individuals whose donations make the production and distribution of this manual possible.

West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, Inc., takes full responsibility for any errors in this manual. We appreciate all the work and assistance provided by the people and groups acknowledged above. We could not have finished this project without them, but we are completely accountable for any mistakes. If you find errors in this edition of the manual please let us know. We appreciate your input.

This manual is designed to provide senior West Virginians and people who help them with general legal information they can understand and put to use. It is divided into 13 major sections by topic. Each of these topics contains specific legal questions covering a variety of issues. The Table of Contents summarizes each question and can be used to find legal information by topic.

Many legal terms are used in this manual. The first time one appears in the manual, it is underlined and defined on the page it appears. When words that have already been defined in a previous question appear in later questions, the words are underlined the first time they appear. All underlined words in the manual are defined in the Glossary.

If you are looking for legal information relating to a specific legal term that does not appear in the Table of Contents, try looking in the Glossary to find that term. Each definition in the Glossary is followed by one or more page numbers on which your legal term is used or discussed in the body of this manual.

If your legal question is not addressed in this manual and if you are a resident of West Virginia who is age 60 or older, please call West Virginia Senior Legal Aid at 1 (800) 229-5068 to speak with an attorney

Legal Questions Frequently Asked By Seniors
In West Virginia
Nineteenth Edition, August 2016

Updated and Expanded by

Ryan Wallace,

Legal Intern


Cat McConnell, Esq, Executive Director


235 High Street, Room 519, Morgantown, WV 26505

(304) 296-0082 or (800) 229-5068