What’s the Difference Between Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Long-Term Care Planning?
Traditional Estate Planning
Traditionally, estate planning has been focused on what happens when die. It tackles issues of avoiding probate, reducing taxes, and distributing your estate to your intended heirs. And while that it still important for us to address, these days, those can be the easier issues for us to solve.
Traditional Elder Law
Meanwhile, for most, elder law has been focused on what we call “crisis planning.” A loved has a health decline and needs caregiving assistance, whether it’s in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. Then, in a panic, the family might contact an elder law attorney to help come up with a plan for how to pay for care. This may often involve developing a spend-down plan to qualify for Medicaid assistance or veteran’s benefits. Elder law can may also address other issues such as elder fraud, nursing home neglect, etc.
Long-Term Care Planning
But in today’s world, there’s a big gap in between that is often ignored. Over the past couple of decades, medicine has made amazing progress. We’re living longer than ever. When someone suffers a major heart attack that in the past would have been fatal, these days the cardiac team works their magic, and the person is heading back home to recover within a few days.
The trade-off of some of these medical advancements, it that as we live older, we are far more likely to face more chronic, extended, long-term health care issues. With debilitating strokes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other forms of dementia, the need for care can extend for years and the cost of care can be financially devastating.
That’s why in our office we also emphasize long-term care planning (or senior estate planning or pre-planning, whichever term you prefer). For clients in their 60s, 70s, or early 80s, that are in reasonable good health for their age and are not in imminent need for long-term care, we’ll help them develop not just an estate plan, but also explore long-term care and pre-planning options to prepare for the possibility of care needs in the future.
The appropriate options can vary dramatically from one client to another. For some, it might involve pre-planning for future eligibility for Medicaid assistance, Special assistance, or veteran’s benefits. Generally, if you plan ahead, we will be able to preserve more assets and help you qualify for assistance sooner.
For others, it might be exploring the use of other tools such as different forms of long-term care insurance, life insurance, annuities, reverse mortgages, or other tools.
Estate planning and elder care attorney, Jackie Bedard, is insurance-licensed specifically so she can help clients address these important issues. As an attorney, Jackie owes a fiduciary duty to act in her client’s best interests and recommend the tools that she feels will best help them accomplish their estate and long-term care planning goals. She firmly believes that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to long-term care planning. Instead, the best planning often involves combining legal and financial options.