The Importance of Elder Law Estate Planning

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Seniors are living longer, healthier, and happier lives than ever before. Sunset careers and active retirements are becoming the norm. However, whether you are 40 or 80, it is never too early to start thinking about your elder law estate planning. In fact, addressing how you want your health, finances, and estate handled early could mean you will have more money available to live comfortably in your final years.

What is the Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning

Many people believe that elder law and estate planning are the same thing. After all, they both involve what happens when you get old, lose the ability to care for yourself, and eventually pass away. However, they are actually separate, overlapping areas of the law.

What is Elder Law?

Elder law is a broad category of the law that generally covers anything an older adult may need to facilitate their housing, care, financial needs, and healthcare access. While this includes elder law estate planning, it goes much further than just drafting a will or administering a trust. An elder law attorney can help you:

  • Oversee the investment and distribution of retirement income and pensions
  • Obtain and maintain life, health, and disability insurance
  • Review and select senior living facilities and long-term care options
  • Respond to elder abuse and neglect, such as nursing home abuse
  • Defend against age-based housing discrimination
  • Apply for and manage Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security benefits
  • Plan for Veterans and Disability benefits
  • Strategize about estate tax matters

Essentially, an elder law attorney is a partner in your family’s financial, medical, and housing planning. They can help you identify and consider your options, as well as defending elders’ rights. Most importantly for elder law estate planning, your lawyer can help you to plan ahead to pay for and manage your end-of-life care.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is important for everyone, not just seniors. A robust estate plan accounts for both:

  • What happens to your assets and property after you pass away
  • How you are cared for if a medical condition means you can’t handle your affairs yourself

An estate planning attorney can help you create a will, trust, and end-of-life planning documents that:

  • Minimize taxes, probate court filing fees, and post-death expenses
  • Structure your estate to allow you and your dependents to receive Medicaid, Veterans, and Disability benefits without spending down their assets
  • Formalize your preferences for your end of life care through health care directives
  • Select and authorize individuals to address your health, financial, and estate matters when you are disabled
  • Protect your assets from creditors or criminals who might try to take advantage of you
  • Ensure your wishes are carried out after your death

Estate plans are essential for young parents, business owners, wealthy families, and most everyone else who acknowledges that eventually their lives will end. However, as you get older, there is more urgency and there are more things to consider to create a thoughtful elder law estate plan.

Why Should You Work on Your Elder Law Estate Planning Now?

You don’t need to be a senior to start your elder estate planning. In fact, the earlier you start, the more options your elder law estate planning law firm will have in crafting a comprehensive strategy to account for your health, care, and finances later in life. By starting early, you can:

  • Lock in better rates on life and disability insurance policies
  • Shield assets from Medicaid eligibility determinations before to the five-year look-back period begins
  • Create long-term plans for retirement accounts and financial planning that anticipate assisted living, nursing home, and health care costs
  • Verify your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and insurance policies
  • Be prepared for an accident or unexpected medical condition or illness
  • Establish your wishes for your affairs before there is any question about your mental capacity or ability to make those decisions

The sooner you create an estate plan, the more certainty you will have for your future. Remember, an estate plan can always be modified if your circumstances change. We recommend reviewing your estate plan every 3 years, just to make sure everything is still as it should be. However, by planning today, you can make sure your family knows how you want your affairs to be handled in the future.

At NSSSB, our experienced estate planning attorneys are available to help guide you through planning for your retirement, final years, and your estate after your pass away. We understand how Michigan and federal laws affect your eligibility for benefits, and how probate courts will interpret your will and other estate planning documents. We will make sure your elder law estate plan is ready when you need it. Click here to schedule a consultation with an attorney and start making your estate plan today.

Categories: Estate Planning