Elder Law and Estate Planning: What’s the Difference?

In all legal fields there are a lot of complicated and confusing terms that are used, and the meanings are often confused by people who aren’t familiar with the law. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to elder law and estate planning. These two areas of the law are often mistaken for each other or used interchangeably. However, they are actually distinct from each other and each has different practical applications to everyone. Understanding the difference between elder law and estate planning can help you to better prepare for your and your family’s future.

A Simple Explanation

The simplest way to understand and remember the difference between estate planning and elder law is that estate planning answers the question of, “what happens to my estate after I die?,” and elder law answers, “what happens to me while I’m still living?” Of course, a lot of estate planning will have an impact on your estate while living too, which is why the two can have a lot in common.

How They Are Related

Estate planning and elder law work hand in hand. You don’t necessarily have to be in the “elder” category to start estate planning, but later in life is when most people will have accrued more savings and assets that need to be managed.

When you are estate planning, part of the process is something called asset preservation. This includes things like looking for ways to reduce your tax burden, finding ways to grow your wealth, and more. In many cases, this can include making a healthcare trust to help cover expenses, or even performing Medicaid planning to help reduce potential expenses of going into a nursing home or other long-term care facility. A good estate plan will help ensure you have the finances to take care of your health as you age, and a good elder law plan will help to ensure an illness, disability, or need won’t wipe out your savings.

Another way they are related is that both of these types of law are focused on making sure your wishes are honored when you can’t make decisions for yourself. If you become incapacitated, for example, you can ensure you get the medical care you wanted by appointing a healthcare power of attorney, which is part of elder law. After you pass away, you can make sure your estate is transferred to your loved ones, or charities you care about, via a trust, which is part of estate planning.

Helping You Plan for Whatever Comes Next

Here at ProActive Legal Care, we offer representation for both elder care and estate planning. Whether you need help with both or you’re just looking to focus on one for now, we are here for you. Please contact us to set up a consultation to get this important process started.

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