Estate Planning or Elder Care Attorney? What Do You Need?
Remember what it felt like when you were young… when becoming a “senior citizen” seemed surreal—hard to even imagine?
Now, here you are. What once seemed so far away is now not only a reality but often, it can feel like the “future” snuck up from nowhere and caught you somewhat unprepared.
Yet, you’ve worked hard throughout your life to get to this place. You’ve put in the time and the effort to get to a point where it’s time to rest a little, have a bit of fun enjoying the fruits of your labor, and definitely NOT worry about what tomorrow might — or might not — bring.
However, if you didn’t or don’t plan for this time well — or have no plan moving forward — all your hard work and effort could be at risk.
There are several important things seniors need to consider to ensure that the golden years are peaceful and protected. Among these are estate planning and asset protection. An elder care attorney can be your secret weapon to ensuring seniors are prepared and covered for anything that life still might have to spring on you.
First, it’s important for you to understand the difference between estate planning, elder care, and asset protection.
Estate Planning is the process whereby a person creates legal documents that outline the disposition of personal and real property upon death.
While estate planning is something that many seniors do consider, asset protection is also important for anyone who wants to make sure those they leave behind are not left unprotected —and are taken care of — in the case of the asset holder’s death.
Asset protection is critical for anyone with assets, especially families with minor children, marriages or unions where one spouse or partner is disabled or incapacitated, if an adult child is incapable of fully taking care of themselves, and for non-traditional couples or families, as well.
Yet, while some estate planning attorneys are also versed in elder care and elder care law, some are not.
Thus, who is best to help you with these important decisions and steps? Which is better for your needs—an elder care attorney or estate planning attorney?
Getting older comes with its own particular set of legal considerations, in addition to the general questions and issues that come with estate planning.
An estate planning attorney can be immensely beneficial in helping to craft an estate plan that is effective, comprehensive, and unquestionable. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they understand the myriad of other legal issues that come age and aging.
An elder care attorney is familiar with these circumstances and should also be strongly competent in estate planning as a part of this role. Furthermore, their expertise should include powers of attorney, advanced directives for health care, guardianship and conservatorship actions, trust and will creation and management, Veterans benefits, Medicare and Medicaid, and asset protection.
Therefore, which one is “better” — an estate planning lawyer or elder care attorney — really depends on what stage of life you are currently in, your existing circumstances, and the requirements put forth by your particular life and financial situation.
What does this really mean? Who needs an elder care attorney and when?
As we’ve mentioned, as adults progress in age, there are certain “new” things to think about and consider. What if you find yourself with a health crisis and you need someone else to make your financial or medical decisions? Who will make them? How can you be sure they’ll do what you want?
Who will take care of your spouse, partner, or disabled adult child or children, if they’re unable to take care of themselves without you? How long will your money last and where and when will it be spent? Will you or they be eligible for benefits you are currently receiving? What if there is an argument among heirs over any of the above now or when you pass away?
All these questions need answers.
Again, many people think Elder Care Law is the same as an estate law attorney. While an elder care attorney can also be an estate and asset protection attorney, they are not the same.
Estate law is concerned with what you leave to your loved ones when you die. An Elder Care Attorney knows how to help negotiate the confusing legal terrain when a loved one has become mentally or physically incapable of caring for their needs and their own personal business prior to their death.
An elder care attorney, specifically a certified elder care attorney, helps you uncover these questions, consider them thoughtfully, and make sure the answers are recorded and legally binding.
You need someone in your corner. Are adult children legally obligated for the care of their aging parents?
There is often a great deal of stress that accompanies this question. In many states, the answer on the books is, “Yes.” What is often up for debate or even interpretation is whether or not this filial responsibility can lead to civil or criminal penalties.
Unfortunately, for the parents, this means that a great burden could be put on their children —even grown, adult, children— that they might not be able to shoulder. It is even expected that greater enforcement of recorded laws could come in the future as Medicaid and other government care resources diminish.
If this is a challenge you don’t want to leave to your kids in the future, then an elder law attorney can help you now to set up the necessary estate and asset protection plans — as well as solidify the answers to many other elder care questions and potential eventualities — that could arise. A long-term care plan is an important part of this protection—for you and your descendants. The sooner you do this, the better.
Understanding and making use of elder care law is critical to avoiding this issue for your children and making sure your “will be done.”
As discussed, estate planning, disability, health care, retirement, taxes, financial planning, abuse and discrimination issues can, and often do arise in the elder years. It is important to know your rights and seek counseling and advice when needed. When dealing with legal issues that pertain to the elderly, it is wise to seek counseling from a lawyer who is certified in ‘Elder Law’.
When dealing with elder care law it is advisable to choose a lawyer that is familiar not only with elder law, but one that can also recognize ethical issues that may arise and can suggest public and private non-legal resources in the community to help meet your needs. Often, this is something just any estate planning — or even asset protection lawyer — is not uniquely trained to do.
Our estate and asset protection law firm is here for you. We are not only experts in asset protection and estate planning, as a top elder care law firm in Georgia specializing in estate planning and asset protection, we are uniquely positioned to advise and direct you on the intricacies of how things and elder care law interact too.
From the moment you contact us, we can guide and tell you all you need to know— from what documents to get together, what scenarios to consider, and what decisions must be made — so that your estate plan, long-term care plan, and more, can all be managed in a manner that will give you peace now and keep your loved ones covered after you’re gone.