Difference Between Estate Planning And Elder Law Attorneys
People often ask me if there is a difference between Estate and Asset Planning Attorneys and Elder Law Attorneys…
I can understand how the lines may become blurred because some of the services each provides seem to overlap. However, there are significant differences which I will explain. But, just as an overview, estate planning attorneys write the blueprints for the future event that everyone faces – death – which includes protection of one’s assets along the way. Elder law attorneys specifically help seniors navigate their changing needs as they age.
Estate Planning Is Proactive And Ongoing
One way to think about estate planning is as a proactive task. It’s all about preparing for the inevitable – death. Proper estate plans establish the who, what, and when of what happens to your property and assets after your death. The plan provides a roadmap for your family to follow when they can no longer look to you for guidance.
Estate planning is also an ongoing task since the plan must be updated whenever there is a noteworthy life change. For instance, selling an existing home, buying stocks, buying a rental property, the addition of new children or grandchildren, marriage, divorce or the sudden death of a spouse, relative or other loved one designated as a beneficiary in the estate plan. Also, you may want to change your Power of Attorney due to any number of reasons. So, as you can see an estate plan is something that gets updated as life events change.
The Value Of Retaining An Elder Law Attorney
When people become elderly, there are many legal documents that must be in place in order to qualify for certain benefits. For example, seniors need to make sure they have disability documents in place and that they have a plan for their assets after they pass. However, qualifying for disability, Medicaid or Veteran’s benefits can be a confusing and strategic process, especially when you have assets in your name. Elder law attorneys help to protect these assets in the best manner while helping you qualify for medical benefits as soon as possible. Elder law attorneys typically have more expertise at Medicaid planning for long-term care. Even though Medicaid is a federal program, each state varies on qualification criteria.
Additionally, elder law attorneys advise clients on senior rights, age discrimination, elder abuse, and other issues that impact the senior community. As you may already be aware, seniors are targets for crime and discrimination and when necessary, an elder law attorney will help battle these issues. I wrote an article about this last month. In case you missed it, you can read it by clicking here: Don’t Scam My Dad. Elder law attorneys also help seniors in recognizing abuse and crime, reporting it, and making sure their rights are protected.
Of course, many seniors will have some of the same goals that a traditional estate planning client might have. In addition, due to age, mental competency and other circumstances, many seniors often require help navigating confusing federal systems. While the services of estate planning attorneys and elder law attorneys do overlap, the value of working with a firm that offers both services is becoming more and more in demand. We have been providing both services to our clients for many years. If you would like to discuss either estate and asset protection or elder care services, please give us a call.