When I introduce myself as an “Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney,” many individuals either believe the title to be redundant, or are confused as to what elder law entails. Estate planning is generally a well-known and understood area of law to many people – wills, trusts, and planning for how money and property is split up after a person dies. However, elder law is an area of law that oftentimes goes overlooked or unheard of.
Estate planning, as many know, addresses the question of “what happens if I die?” Estate planning is commonly comprised of a will and/or trust, health care directive (or living will), and power of attorney. Individuals and couples can provide and plan for the futures of their children, and decide how their estate will be distributed when they are gone.
Elder law, on the other hand, addresses the question of “happens if I live?” In today’s world, that is becoming an increasingly difficult and pressing question. As people age, there is a realistic likelihood that their health will decrease and they will experience an increase in health care costs. They may need to rely on others for assistance – whether it be temporary or permanent. Estate planning does not address these issues, but elder law does.
It is important to plan for “what happens if I live,” particularly with health care and senior living costs. If no planning is in place, individuals can find their life savings significantly or entirely depleted following illness or a hospital/nursing home stay. With savings wiped out by such costs later in life, your spouse or heirs may be left with nothing. If one spouse is in need of long term care while the other spouse remains healthy, it is important to consult with an elder law attorney to prevent the well spouse from depleting their finances entirely.
- Elder law covers all aspects of planning, counseling, education and advocating for clients. The area of elder law requires attorneys to be particularly sensitive to the legal issues impacting elder clients. Elder law deals with legal issues involving:
- Wills and trusts, planning for minor children or adult special needs children;
- Employment and retirement matters;
- Age or disability discrimination and grandparents’ rights;
- Resident rights in long terms care facilities;
- Elder abuse and financial exploitation claims;
- Capacity issue;
- Guardianships and conservatorships;
- Health and personal care planning;
- Fiduciary representation;
- Planning for a well spouse when the other spouse requires long term care;
- Asset protection;
- Public benefits such as Medicaid and insurance;
- Veterans’ benefits;
- Planning for aging, illness and incapacity.
As an elder law attorney, I focus on the needs of older adults, which are often different and more specialized than the needs of younger adults. I am aware of the unique needs of the senior population, as well as the myths related to competence and aging. Not only do I handle financial and estate planning matters, but I also can address issues affecting the actual care of seniors, such as assisted living and life planning. I aim to be a resource to my clients as I understand that my client’s needs may extend beyond the basic legal services I provide. Accordingly, I remain informed and connected to local professionals who serve the elder population and am happy to work with other professionals, or make appropriate referrals, when necessary.
The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.