The Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning

The terms “elder law” and “estate planning” are often used interchangeably, but in fact, they are two separate, yet related, areas of law. As the average lifespan increases, individuals have to consider what type of quality of life they want in their golden years and how they will achieve it. They also, of course, must make considerations for what will happen after they pass away. This is the primary difference between elder law and estate planning.

Planning for Life

The main goal of elder law is to plan for life. A longer lifespan means more time with family, but it can also mean more extensive health care needs and long-term care needs. By working with an elder law attorney, individuals can decide how they want to spend their senior years and find a way to use their assets to create that lifestyle. This may include Medicaid planning, in which an attorney helps clients avoid losing all of their assets to a long-term care facility. It may also include transferring assets to a trust in a way that minimizes tax burdens while still keeping funds available.

Planning for Death

While elder law involves planning for the later stages of your life, estate planning helps you create a plan for your death. While you want to retain control of your assets while you’re alive, you also want to make sure they’re used properly and distributed appropriately after your death. During the estate planning process, your attorney will get a full overview of your assets and obligations. From there, they will help you create a plan that respects your final wishes and provides for your beneficiaries.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Plan for Your Life

While there are differences that separate the fields of elder law and estate planning, there is no doubt that these two fields work together seamlessly. Ideally, every individual should have a comprehensive plan that encompasses their final years and their death. Focusing solely on estate planning may not leave you with enough to live on in your final years, a time when you should be able to live in peace and comfort. Focusing exclusively on elder law may leave your family without a solid plan and path forward after you pass away, leaving your assets to be consumed by court fees, taxes, and family disputes.

Think about what you want from life and what type of legacy you want to leave after you die, and you will see how estate planning and elder law work together. Ready to move forward? Contact Amsberry Law Firm at (210) 354-2244 to discuss your next steps.