There is a common misconception about elder law and estate planning. Many people think that these two concepts only apply to individuals with wealth during the later part of their lives. However, this is the furthest thing from the truth. Everyone has an estate. Elder law is actually an area of law that affects everyone at any age that plans on growing old.
There are many questions that people wonder about as they grow old including:
- If I can’t make decisions for myself anymore what will happen?
- Who will make decisions for me if I am no longer able to?
- Do I qualify for any special benefits?
- How will I go about making arrangements for special financial obligations?
- What will happen with my belongings?
- As I grow old where will I live and how will I continue to pay for it?
These questions and more are answered when you meet with an elder law attorney. Meeting with an attorney that specializes in elder law is an incredibly proactive step to take. It is a step that everyone should take but especially those with health and medical concerns. Elder law goes well beyond estate planning because it addresses your quality of life, housing arrangements, financial and medical concerns.
Estate planning is beneficial for everyone because it affects people from all sectors of life, not just the wealthy. No one is protected against the conflict that can arise in a family after the death of a loved one; with a detailed estate plan in place though a lot of family disagreements can be avoided. Everything and anything that an individual possesses can be part of an estate plan including: cars, homes, bank accounts, life insurance, furnishings and personal property. Estate planning should be done early in life and updated on a regular basis.
An estate planning attorney helps individuals think ahead to prepare for and make arrangements while they are still living. It is in place to minimize taxes, probate expenses and create less family drama upon an individual’s passing. If an estate plan is not in place the estate is distributed based on the rules of the state and the court. Without a plan in place probate laws state how the distribution of the estate will play out. What this could mean is that your spouse, children and other relatives may end up not provided for in the manner that you would have chosen.
An estate planning attorney can assist with drawing up wills, trust, designating beneficiaries, power of attorneys, gifting, special financial arrangements and insurance needs. Estate planning attorneys help individuals with a variety of concerns including:
- Making sure that your instructions are carried out as you wish.
- Helping to minimize the amount paid in taxes, court fees and miscellaneous expenses.
- Helping detail your heath care directive and ensure that your instructions are followed if you should become disabled.
- Taking care of naming individuals as guardians and ensuring the inheritance will be managed by the correct individual.
- Providing detailed instruction for special needs family members.
- Determining what insurance is needed including life, disability and long term care.
- Ensuring that wishes with business endeavors that are in place are carried out accordingly including transfers of ownership.
An elder law attorney encompasses a very broad spectrum of the law. Elder law lawyers can assist clients with all the functions of estate planning and more. As individuals live longer more planning is needed to ensure that not only are their families cared for but that they are as well. Thoughtful planning and budgeting take place to ensure that the twists and turns of life are all met. Elder law attorneys take care of special needs including:
- Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security Issues
- Retirement benefits
- Long term care and housing needs including financing
- Issues with age discrimination
- Elder abuse and neglect issues
- Disability planning
- Veterans planning
- Issues with insurance
- End of life decisions