Did you know that an elder law attorney is not the same thing as an estate planning attorney? While elder law attorneys can and do help their clients establish effective estate plans, the focus of an elder law practice goes beyond estate planning.
In a nutshell, estate planning takes care of what happens to your property after you pass away; an estate planning attorney can help you minimize the impact of taxes on your estate and can assist you in making sure that all of your assets pass to the people you choose in the manner you choose. Elder law, on the other hand, takes into account what happens when you’re still alive.
An elder law attorney focuses on helping you put the appropriate plans in place to make sure you’re your loved ones, and your property are well cared for if you reach a point during your lifetime where you can no longer take care of yourself. For example, an elder law attorney can help ensure that you avoid “living probate” (the need for a court-appointed guardian or conservator) by making sure the right legal documents are in place. He or she can also help you address the possibility that you’ll need some form of long-term care as you age. This might involve exploring the options presented by different types of long-term care facilities, structuring your financial plans so that you’ll be able to afford long-term care without dissipating the inheritance you plan to leave for your loved ones, or determining how you can qualify for public benefits in order to pay for nursing home or other long-term care.
This is just a basic overview of the difference between elder law attorneys and estate planning attorneys. If you are concerned about finding and paying for the right type of long-term care, or if you’re concerned about structuring your finances so that your nest egg is protected in the event of a decline in your health, you’ll likely want to consult with a qualified elder law attorney. You might be surprised at the ways he or she can help you.