The Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning

Elder law and estate planning serve two different–but equally vital–functions. The main difference is that elder law is focused on preserving your assets during your lifetime, while estate planning concentrates on what happens to your assets after you die. 

Elder law planning is concerned with ensuring that seniors live long, healthy, and financially secure lives. It usually involves anticipating future medical needs, including long-term care. Elder law attorneys can help you develop a plan to pay for future care while preserving some of your assets.  Elder law attorneys  also assist you with qualifying for Medicaid or other benefits to pay for long-term care. In addition, elder law planning can ensure that you are protected from elder abuse or exploitation when you get older or become incapacitated. Finally, elder law covers assistance with guardianship and conservatorship, if needed. 

While elder law is focused on older adults, estate planning is for everyone of all ages. Estate planning attorneys help you plan what will happen happen to your assets when death, disability or incapacity occurs.  Estate planners use wills and trusts to make sure your wishes are carried out both during your life and after you are gone. Your estate plan can also include naming a guardian for your young children or provisions for pets. In addition, estate planners can help you avoid probate and family conflict. For business owners, estate planning can  include creating customized plans to transfer your buisness while reducing or eliminating taxes.

Estate plans can change as your circumstances change, so it is important to keep revisiting your estate plan over the years. For example, marriages, divorces, births, and deaths, as well as changes in finances and in the law, can all call for updates to your estate plan. 

To get started on your estate plan or elder law planning, contact our office. We enjoy helping clients successfully plan for the transition of their assets. We also provide many elder law services, including helping clients plan for the cost of long term care and applying for Medicaid. Call our office to schedule an Estate Planning Consultation or a Long Term Care Planning Consultation.

If you have specific questions about your situation or would like to learn more, reach out to the team at WBH here.

Read more articles:

Preserving the Family Vacation Home for Generations to Come

Summer is winding down and if you are one of the lucky ones, you got to spend some time at a family vacation home. How do you make sure your children and grandchildren can enjoy that second home as much as you did? The question for owners of vacation homes in planning...

Claiming Social Security Benefits at Age 70

If you are about to turn 70, congratulations on reaching a big milestone.  And if you also have delayed claiming Social Security retirement benefits up till now, you are joining a select group -- only 6.5 percent of Social Security recipients put off collecting their...

You Can ‘Cure’ a Medicaid Penalty Period by Returning a Gift

Anyone who gifted assets within five years of applying for Medicaid may be subject to a penalty period, but that penalty can be reduced or eliminated if the assets are returned.  In order to be eligible for Medicaid, you cannot have recently transferred assets....

Medicaid’s Attempt to Ensure the Healthy Spouse Is Not Impoverished: The CSRA

Medicaid law provides special protections for the spouses of Medicaid applicants to make sure the spouses have the minimum support needed to continue to live in the community while their husband or wife is receiving long-term care benefits, usually in a nursing home....

How Much Should a Trustee Be Compensated?

Serving as a trustee of a trust can be a huge responsibility, so trustees are entitled to compensation for their work. The amount of compensation depends on the type of trustee and the complexity of the trust.  Depending on the trust, a trustee’s duties can include...

Medicaid’s “Snapshot” Date and Its Crucial Impact on a Couple’s Financial Picture

When a married couple applies for Medicaid, the Medicaid agency must analyze the couple’s income and assets as of a particular date to determine eligibility. The date that the agency chooses for this analysis is called the “snapshot” date and it can have a major...

Why You May Need a Trust in Addition to a Power of Attorney

While everyone should have a durable power of attorney that appoints someone to act for them if they become incapacitated, in some circumstances, it is not enough. In these cases, a revocable trust can help.  A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone...

When Can Someone Be Declared Legally Incompetent?

If a loved one is experiencing memory loss or suddenly making poor decisions, you may be in a situation where it becomes necessary to ask the probate court to appoint a guardian and/or a conservator for them. This is a complicated process, so we strongly encourage our...

In 2022, Social Security Beneficiaries Will See the Biggest Increase in 39 Years

The year was 1983: The U.S. invaded Granada. A gallon of gas cost 96 cents. Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video premiered. That year was also the last time that Social Security recipients saw a cost-of-living increase steeper than the one just announced for 2022. This...

Medicare’s Limited Nursing Home Coverage

Many people believe that Medicare covers nursing home stays. In fact, Medicare's coverage of nursing home care is quite limited. Medicare covers up to 100 days of "skilled nursing care" per illness, but there are a number of requirements that must be met before the...