What is the difference between Elder Law and Estate Planning?

I am frequently asked this question.  Some people see Elder Law and estate planning as two distinct practice areas.  As an Elder Law attorney, I see them as being closely related.

Estate planning is concerned with the distribution of your assets upon your death, in the way best calculated to carry out your wishes, and to avoid taxation to the extent possible.  Elder Law is concerned with obtaining the best health care, particularly long-term care, for our clients, and protecting their money, property and income at the same time.

Unless you have adequate insurance, or you are very wealthy, health care and particularly long-term care can rapidly deplete your life’s savings and even put your home in jeopardy.  At the intersection of estate planning and Elder Law is this important question:  What will be left of your estate if you need to spend down your savings on health care?

It should be obvious that, without a good long-term care and asset protection plan, the most thoughtful and well-considered estate plan could turn out to be irrelevant.  That is why I ask this question of every client who comes to see me about their estate plan:   What have you done to protect yourself and your family against financial ruin should you need long-term care?

Fortunately, elder care attorneys have a wide variety of reliable and effective strategies to protect you and your estate.  To mention a couple of important examples that you can read about on our website, click to find a discussion of the Medicaid asset protection trust and the pooled income trust.  Of course, every case has its own unique facts, and other strategies may be more appropriate for you.

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