The Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning

As an estate planning attorney, one of the most common misunderstandings that clients have is that they think estate planning and elder law are the same thing. While they are both essential components of planning for future events, they are actually quite distinct from each other. Learning about the differences can help ensure you have the right resources in place for both your current situation in life and whatever comes down the road.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is any effort that is being made to decide what will happen to your assets when you pass away. These types of decisions can also have an impact on how the assets are handled today, but the main focus is post-death planning. The following are among the most common types of tools that are used in estate planning:

  • Will – A will is typically the first, and most basic, document for estate planning. It can be used to identify which of your heirs will get what.
  • Trusts – There are many different types of trusts, each of which serve a different purpose. A firearms trust, for example, can help make the transfer of ownership of your guns much easier for your heirs.

What is Elder Law?

Elder law, on the other hand, is focused on protecting yourself and your assets while you are living. The focus of elder law is to make sure that your assets will be there to support you as long as you live and are available to be passed on to your loved ones when you do pass away. In addition, this area of law lets you make important decisions regarding your health care, finances, and other things ahead of time so you can be confident you will get the care you need. Tools used in elder care include:

  • Advanced Directive – An advance directive can identify what type of medical treatment you would like to receive in specific situations.
  • Medicare Planning – Planning for the possibility of having to receive long term care. This includes positioning assets in such a way that they are not included in the calculations used to qualify for Medicare.

There are, of course, many other tools and resources used in each of these types of law. Understanding the difference between these two types of legal help is very important. In many situations it will be necessary to use both of these options together to prepare for retirement and beyond.

If you need help with estate planning in Florida, please contact Luis E. Barreto & Associates, P.A. to discuss your options and see how you can prepare your estate for the future.

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Written by Luis E. Barreto

Luis E. Barreto

Luis is a probate and guardianship litigator with over 23 years of experience in the field. Determination of heirs, will contests, breaches of fiduciary duty, removal of personal representatives, guardians and trustees are just some of the types of litigation he addresses. In addition, he administers non-contested estates and guardianships.