Elder law and estate planning are often confused with each other. Admittedly, they are akin to each other, but here’s the key difference: elder law is about planning for what happens when a senior is still alive and estate planning is about planning for what happens after someone passes away.
Elder law planning can include things such as:
- Planning for incapacity, including executing financial and healthcare powers of attorney;
- Planning for long-term care costs;
- Planning for government benefits eligibility;
- Creating a care plan with health professionals;
- Creating a plan for end-of-life decisions, including a living will;
- Guardianship or conservator representation;
- Elder abuse claims representation;
- Discrimination claims; and
- Planning for a loved one with special needs.
Because an elder law attorney wants to formulate a complete plan for their client, she will often also include estate planning as part of a client’s case. This means creating a plan for what happens to the senior’s assets after she passes away, including things like tax-avoidance strategies and asset protection for beneficiaries.
Trust planning is another commonality between elder law and estate planning. Trusts can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Keeping assets from being countable for government benefits eligibility, including Medicaid, Veterans pension benefits, and Social Security Administration benefits;
- Allowing a Medicaid applicant to qualify for Medicaid even if their income is over the income cap limit;
- Allowing beneficiaries to achieve the best result for inherited retirement-account proceeds;
- Avoiding probate proceedings;
- Achieving asset protection; and
- Decreasing tax liability.
Because elder law and estate planning can go hand-in-hand, attorneys who have an existing estate planning practice often find that expanding their services into elder law is a perfect match. The attorney can provide much-needed services to their clients, provide more comprehensive plans for their clients, and generate more revenue for their firm.
Are your aging clients requesting more and more services that extend outside your area of expertise? Or have you been thinking about expanding into elder law but have a lot of questions and aren't sure who to ask? Download this free guide to start exploring elder law today.