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Many people confuse elder law and estate planning or use the terms interchangeably. While both areas of law are important, and many attorneys offer both sets of services to the same clients, the two fields do serve distinct goals. When you are planning for your financial future and the future of your family, it’s important to account for both. Continue reading for a discussion of elder law and estate planning and how they differ. If you have questions about a matter of elder law or estate planning, or for help preparing for your future, reach out to a knowledgeable West Palm Beach elder law and estate planning attorney for assistance.
Estate planning focuses on establishing trusts, wills, and other legal documents that dictate what happens to a person’s assets after they die. Estate planning allows a person to decide in advance what happens to all of their assets and liabilities upon their death.
With effective estate planning, a person can ensure that their family, friends, and preferred charities are well-cared-for even after they are gone. Your estate plan is basically the roadmap for people that survive you. Effective estate planning requires more than putting your intentions for your assets into writing, however; it also means careful planning to limit taxes, avoid probate disputes, and generally ensure that your assets flow as smoothly as possible to your desired beneficiaries.
Estate planning, like elder law, is an ongoing obligation. It is not a “one and done” matter. You should regularly update your will, trust, insurance plans, powers of attorney, and other estate planning tools to reflect changes in your family composition, your income, and other life events.
While equally important, elder law is often less well-known or well-understood. In a nutshell, while estate planning is primarily focused on what happens when someone dies, elder law is about protecting senior citizens while they are still alive. Elder law focuses on protecting your assets and your other interests as you near the end of your life, including planning for long-term care services like nursing and medical care.
The primary goal of elder law is to ensure that your needs are met when you reach advanced age. It includes considerations about protecting elders from abuse, preserving assets, and ensuring that they have continued access to medical care. Elder law planning can help you maintain eligibility for government programs like Medicaid, VA benefits, Social Security, and others. Elder law often includes preparing trusts for yourself and other family members in need in order to distribute assets in a financially sound manner without affecting eligibility for needs-based programs.
Elder law and estate planning are not the same things, but they do concern the same overarching goals: protecting your assets and your family. Serving the goals of one helps to serve the goals of the other. Without proper elder law planning, you may find that you have no assets to distribute to your loved ones in your estate. Proper planning requires considerations both about what happens while you are alive as well as what happens afterward and establishing a comprehensive plan that accounts for both. A seasoned elder law and estate planning attorney can help you get your financial ducks in a row regardless of what happens next.
A savvy West Palm Beach elder law attorney can help you and your family plan appropriately to maximize your chances to qualify for Medicaid and other needs-based governmental programs and to explore all of your options for long-term care. If you are in need of a dedicated and thorough Florida asset protection and elder law attorney, contact the compassionate West Palm Beach elder law attorneys Shalloway & Shalloway at 561-686-6200.