How Is Elder Law Different from Estate Planning?

The difference between elder law and estate planning is not well-understood. Although both areas address your changing personal and financial needs as your life unfolds, there is an important distinction between them: the goal of elder law is to preserve your money and assets for use while you are alive, while estate planning is mainly concerned with conveying and acting on your wishes after you pass.

Elder Law

All stages of life come with special health and financial concerns. Although people are living longer and enjoying better health than previous generations, your needs change as you age, and it’s a good idea to create a plan that enables you to live according to your wishes. Despite its name, elder law is not only for older individuals: it is never too early for you to start planning for your future.

Elder law planning tools include:

  • Irrevocable Trusts that can protect your money, property, and other assets during the stage of life when you are most likely to need long-term care. You have no legal ownership over the assets in the trust, allowing to preserve your eligibility for government assistance.
  • Medicaid Planning to help you pay for long-term nursing home care without depleting your estate. Caregiver agreements, annuities, and irrevocable trusts are all elder law planning tools that can assist you in qualifying for Medicaid coverage.
  • Powers of Attorney and Guardianships to ensure that a trusted person you designate can make responsible decisions for you if physical or cognitive disability makes it impossible for you to do so yourself.
  • VA Pension Planning to help veterans and their spouses restructure their income and assets to qualify for veteran’s pension benefits and receive financial aid when they need it most.

An elder law attorney uses these resources to help you plan solutions for your physical, financial, and even cognitive needs as you grow older.

Estate Planning

Estate planning focuses on your assets: how they should be managed while you are alive and how to distribute them after your death in a way that minimizes probate costs and taxes. Tools include:

  • Wills and Trusts that allow you to specify how your estate should be handled after you pass. Otherwise, assets would be distributed according to Florida law, which may not be what you want.
  • Special Needs or Supplemental Needs Trusts to care for loved ones with disabilities without compromising their access to means-based government assistance programs such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.
  • Living Wills and Health Care Powers of Attorney that appoint a trusted party to convey your wishes regarding palliative care, surgical treatments, and organ donation if you are ever unable to do so yourself.

You don’t have to be wealthy or own a lot of property to benefit from an estate plan. If you have a bank account, car, home, and/or personal property, an estate planning attorney will make sure that you have the right plan in place and give you peace of mind.

An attorney who practices both elder law and estate planning will help you achieve security during your lifetime while preserving your assets, first for yourself and later for your loved ones. For assistance in protecting your future and your legacy, contact Legacy Planning Law Group or schedule a consultation by calling (904) 880-5554.

Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.

Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.