Elder Law vs. Estate Planning
Elder law focuses on the needs and best interests of elders. An elder law attorney aids in developing a plan that will answer legal questions that emerge as a person ages such as: “Who will be able to make decisions for me if I am unable to make decisions for myself?” They do this by working with elders and sometimes also with their loved ones and family members to create a plan which will allow the elder to live as independently and autonomously as possible for as long as possible. This plan may include preparing durable powers of attorney, health care surrogate designations, living wills, trusts and will. Elder law attorneys may assist clients identify suitable housing options and qualify for government or public benefits also advise clients about how their financial needs can be met in order to pay for the care they need or may need in the future.
An estate planning attorney works with clients to create plans mindful of tax issues in life and for the distribution of property at death.
The goal of an estate planning attorney is to create a plan that answers the question of “What will happen after I have passed on?” Whereas an elder law attorney creates a long term plan that answers the question of “What will happen while I am still alive?”