How do elder law and estate planning compare? Although the two terms go hand in hand, they have significant differences. If you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with either—perhaps a loved one is getting older, or maybe you yourself are entering your golden years—it’s crucial to learn about both.
Whatever your reasons, if you need to know more about elder law and estate planning, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to find out get a good cross-comparison of elder law and estate planning as well as a dive into some of the nuances of both topics.
Elder Law and Estate Planning: A Quick Comparison
We’re going to go deep into both these topics, but first, we’d like to give you a simple explanation of both. Estate planning entails helping incapacitated individuals or disabled persons to make effective estate plans, while elder law mainly deals with the elderly population that needs closer attention in handling difficult life events.
Let’s tackle elder law first. Elder law mainly seeks to address the health and legal needs of aging adults. Elder law attorneys, for instance, seek to help their clients plan for personal long-term care such as nursing home care. Also, lawyers who specialize in this could help a senior client to access proper health care without depleting personal resources (after all, the cost of nursing home services can be prohibitive). Apart from the aging population, elder law also addresses the needs of persons with disabilities and war veterans.
During estate planning, on the other hand, you can help incapacitated individuals in minimizing their taxes at death and simplifying their eventual probate. You can also aid in distributing their property to beneficiaries to promote peace of mind for everyone. In most cases, estate planning entails:
Let’s go into a bit more detail about both of these topics.
Elder Law and Estate Planning: What Is Elder Law?
As we touched on above, elder law mainly seeks to address the care of seniors. Elder law professionals ensure that an incapacitated individual gains access to quality medical care and seeks to protect assets from any form of damage. For some, this could entail acquiring veteran benefits or Medicaid for an old person.
It is because of such difficulties that some feel the need to hire an elder law attorney. It’s true; an attorney can advise you on how to protect your assets so that these assets can serve you well when disability or incapacitation creeps into your life. You can also get assistance on how to qualify for medical benefits. However, an attorney can be pricey and may not be necessary depending on your circumstances.
If you choose to go about a DIY elder law approach, you’ll need to learn about medical planning and accessing long-term care facilities. There are many resources, including A People’s Choice, that can help you navigate the complex healthcare process for people at an older age. Some related topics include:
- Protecting estate assets
- Applying for Medicaid long-term care
- Taking part in Medicaid hearings and appeals
- Linking you with nursing homes if possible
- Setting up long-term care insurance
How Does Elder Law Help an Incapacitated Person?
When you become incapacitated, elder law gives your attorney or personal representative the mandate to safeguard your personal property. They also ensure that you receive competent care and long-term care coverage.
In this situation, an attorney or personal representative can also dive in to ensure proper estate planning. This could entail the provision of a will that outlines how you want your assets divided at the time of your death.
If you become incapacitated, your lawyer or personal representative will need to make informed decisions on the following:
- If you need a conservatorship
- How to pay for your medical expenses and address major medical decisions
- Whether you require special needs trust
- Whether you have close family, such as adult children, or friends that can take care of you
Your personal representative or attorney can also:
- Protect you against age discrimination in society
- Seek or give legal advice on your rights
- Protect you from elder abuse
Unfortunately, that last bullet point is quite common. Since an elder person has a higher likelihood of discrimination, an advocate can look into such issues. If you are being abused, this person can follow up with the court to ensure the offenders get punished. They can also help in reporting any crime committed against you.
Elder Law and Estate Planning: What Is Estate Planning?
As we mentioned above, elder law helps an individual during life, while estate planning is put in action after death. Estate planning gives you the chance to plan for family and loved ones. This mainly concerns the distribution of your current estate at your time of death.
An estate plan seeks to minimize any property-related conflicts and enables you to develop a clear strategy on how your chosen personal representative will subdivide your estate assets, pay inheritance taxes, and other legal services.
When creating an estate plan, you need to consider the following essential aspects:
- Last will and testament
- Special needs trust
- Revocable living trust
- Pour-over will
- Irrevocable trust
- Estate tax returns
- Documents for asset transfer
What Happens If You Skip Estate Planning?
If you fail to develop a complete plan for your estate assets, the probate court in California takes over your property distribution process when you die. Intestacy laws will then apply when distributing your property. Although the law allows it, having your property go into intestacy isn’t always the best option. Essentially, if you skip estate planning, you give up any right to have a say in what happens to your estate.
When you perform individual planning for your estate, on the other hand, you can consider what every party needs to inherit. You can plan where your money will go, who will take care of your children in the family dynamic, and even the type of care you want if you are incapacitated (if you create a living will). Finally, estate planning enables your family to avoid the lengthy and tiresome probate process after you pass away. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Must You Approach a Lawyer During Estate Planning?
A lawyer with estate planning experience can help with:
- Naming executors
- Identifying people to provide actual care your children
- Identifying IRA beneficiaries, and
- Defining your life insurance policies
An estate planning lawyer can also guide during personal property distribution and making charitable contributions. However, if you know how to develop a clear estate plan by yourself and your estate isn’t unduly complex, there’s no need to hire an estate planning attorney. This will help you avoid the often substantial cost of an estate planning law firm.
Instead, you can seek help from A People’s Choice concerning effective estate planning strategies. We provide elder law & estate planning legal documents at an affordable rate.
Is Estate Planning a One-Time Task?
No! You have to update your estate plan on occasion. From time to time, things change, and so does your asset protection planning. You need to update your estate plan after any life change to ensure it reflects a true picture of what you currently own and who is important to you.
Some of the aspects of planning that may trigger a change in your estate plan include:
- Selling your current home
- Buying stocks
- Buying a rental house
- Having a new child or grandchild
- Getting a divorce
- Losing a loved one
What Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorneys Do
There are many estate planning & elder law services that specialize in these two areas, which adds to the confusion about the difference between the two. To make things even stranger, all elder law attorneys also take part in estate planning (elder law estate planning). On the other hand, not all estate planning attorneys, even experienced attorneys in this area, know about elder law.
Estate & elder law services have similarities in that they both entail planning for the future and having control over decisions. However, for a lawyer specializing in this area, creating proper estate plans entails helping an incapacitated individual or disabled person with estate planning. Elder law, on the other hand, mainly deals with the elderly population that needs closer attention in handling difficult life events. Unlike estate planning, elder law defines a field of law that handles specific issues (protection and care) for the aging population.
Estate Planning Lawyers
Federal and state laws address elder law estate plan services, which are a common topic of concern for those with elderly loved ones. The law gives room for asset protection in elder law and reduced taxes for estate planning clients. Other issues common to elder law and estate planning law services include:
- Choosing a living trust
- Last will and testament
- Health care proxy
- Power of attorney
- Living will
Elder Law Lawyers
Elder law entirely seeks to address the critical needs of the aging population in society. This specialized field of law covers issues such as:
- Asset protection
- Estate planning
- Long-term care planning
- Elder law trust administration
- Future decision-making for an incapacitated individual
To work effectively, elder law attorneys often involve your close family and friends. This field of law also uses a multigenerational approach. It seeks to address your financial, medical, and emotional needs alongside your long-term healthcare needs. It also incorporates the aspect of planning to ensure you cater to everything.
Apart from providing advice to elders, elder law also addresses:
- Veteran benefits
- Children with special needs
- Family home protection
- Estate administration
- Claims for long-term nursing home care to an elderly client
Get Help with Elder Law and Estate Planning Without a Lawyer
While a lawyer specializing in elder law & estate planning solutions can certainly be useful, they come with price tags of hundreds of dollars an hour, and in most cases, you don’t need one. If you’re experiencing challenges with elder law or estate planning, having a legal document assistant to guide you throughout this process could make everything much easier.
At A People’s Choice, we guarantee you the best of services in handling legal issues concerning elder law and estate planning. If you need help drafting a medical power of attorney, durable powers of attorney, a living will, or medical care directives, you can seek the services of A People’s Choice. We have a team of legal professionals ready to assist you with careful planning for the documents you need. Plus, you can avoid those hefty fees associated with an elder specialist or estate planning attorney! Visit us here and let’s get started. You can also call us at 800-747-2780.
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