Estate Planning

& the Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning

Many people think they don’t need a will at all while some others think all they need is a will.

Most people who are focused on estate planning want:

  1. General Power of Attorney – a document to name someone to handle your business and financial affairs if you are not able to do so
  2. Health Care Power of Attorney – a document to name someone to handle your health care and medical issues if you are not able to do so
  3. Living Will – to state your desire to have a natural death
  4. Last Will and Testament – to say to whom your property will be distributed upon your death.

Most people focused on estate planning want to make certain their assets get to their desired beneficiaries as soon as possible after they die and they want to avoid probate.

But as an elder law attorney, I know there is so much more to discuss than just a will,  your estate and what happens to your stuff when you die?

So of course we can do a simple General Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney, a Living Will and a basic Last Will and Testament, but I know there is so much more to do than just drafting estate planning documents. I explain the difference between elder law and estate planning, as follows: An estate plan covers the scenario of, “What happens when I die?” In the case of your assets, how will they be distributed and to whom; how do we minimize taxes, legal fees and costs?

But in today’s world, increasingly, the bigger, more difficult question is, “What happens if you live?” By that I mean, what happens if you suffer a very serious major health crisis – Alzheimer’s Disease, late-stage Cancer, Heart Attack, debilitating Stroke, Chronic Kidney Failure – insulin-dependent diabetes – but you live – you don’t die. But now you are not healthy and have increased health-care costs and need to rely on others for assistance, either temporarily or on a permanent basis. The traditional estate plan does not address this need. An estate plan can help you answer the first question, but a long-term care plan or life care plan with Medicaid Planning and Asset Protection can help you answer both the first and second questions.

Let’s put it another way. An estate plan insures that if you have assets when you die they will be passed in the manner you wish. The key word is “if.” The plan will not, however, guarantee that there will be anything left to pass. Your assets could be mostly or entirely wiped out by a lengthy illness, hospital, and/or nursing home stay, leaving your spouse and other heirs with nothing. That is the dilemma in a nutshell. You’ve heard the saying “I don’t want to go broke in a nursing home.”  And you don’t want to run out of money and run out of options.

So, when do you need an elder law attorney?

If you are concerned about

  • the ever-increasing costs of long term health care and nursing care costs
  • whether you can get the quality care you need without going broke, and spending all of your retirement, investments and hard-earned savings
  • whether your spouse be able to continue to live in the family home with financial security
  • whether you will have any legacy for your family

In reality, everyone needs to adequately and timely prepare for their future . . . and the best time to do that is now. At The Elder Law Center-Surgeon Law Firm, through Medicaid Planning and Asset Protection, we assist seniors and their families, adult children with special needs, single moms with minor children and baby boomers prepare for life’s journey through tailor-made life care plans that provide for long term care needs with asset protection and opportunities for legacy control.

For assistance or to learn about our FREE CONSULTATION, call 910-272-0121 now!