People are often unsure of the difference between elder law and estate planning. Some believe that elder law and estate planning are synonymous when in fact they are not.

This is a common misconception, especially because elder law and estate planning have significant overlap, and because the terms are often misused interchangeably. Despite the overlap, however, the two areas are substantially different. In the most basic sense, estate planning deals with planning for you after your death or disability, while elder law deals with planning for you while you are still alive.

An estate planning attorney will assist you in setting up wills and trusts, drafting deeds and changing beneficiary designations, and otherwise designing a plan that avoids probate of your estate. They will work with you to make sure that your property passes in a manner that is efficient and consistent with your intent. They will assist you in selecting personal representatives and trustees that will manage your affairs in the event of your incapacitation or death. If you have minor children, they will help you draft legal documents that ensure proper care for your children should you not be around to protect them. We cannot stress enough the importance of proper estate planning.

However, while proper estate planning is essential, planning without consideration for your own later life needs is imprudent. The best laid plans for how you wish your assets to be distributed upon your death are for naught if all of your assets are exhausted before you die due to the rising costs of living in the elder years. This is where an experienced elder law attorney that understands both estate planning needs and elder law needs can make a world of difference.

An elder law attorney, in addition to estate planning needs, focuses on issues related to your later years in life, including navigating rising healthcare and homecare costs in an effective manner that ensures that you preserve your assets to ensure that your needs are met and that your hard-earned money passes to your loved ones. They are well equipped to implement plans that maximize the efficient use of your money and assets, while ensuring that you are properly cared for in the event of long-term sickness or should you simply need more attentive care in your advanced years. An elder law attorney can also protect you in your later years from dishonest individuals looking to prey on the elderly by setting up plans that safeguard your assets.

Employing an attorney that understands the overlap and nuances between estate planning and elder law is crucial to ensuring that plans work together. No matter who you choose to employ for your end of life needs, it is absolutely crucial that the individual you speak with understands the differences between elder law and estate planning and is equipped to assist you with both. If you or a family member is in need of elder law and estate planning counsel, contact a Foster Swift estate planning attorney.