Understanding the Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning During National Elder Law Month

Did you know that today less than half of all Americans have an estate plan? This means, in the event of a crisis, these individuals have not chosen who will have the legal authority to make their decisions. Most of us think of our estate planning in terms of inheritance and planning for our loved ones at the time of our passing, but there are lifetime decisions that your estate plan can protect you with as well. These could be decisions as simple as paying the mortgage bill or making sure a paycheck is deposited to something much more complicated such as who has the authority to pick up your minor children from school or how to manage your business. In short, your estate plan is a vital tool in making sure you are always protected and your loved ones are provided for.


With the importance of your estate planning to you, your goals, and your family, it might surprise you to learn from us that your estate planning may not be enough. While your estate plan will allow you to plan for yourself, your loved ones, your business, and your legacy during both your lifetime and at the time of your passing, it does not contemplate your long-term care. In other words, what will happen as you age and you potentially face more challenges?


Estate planning, as vital as it is, does not encompass elder law planning. This National Elder Law Month, we believe it is vital to share this information with you and help you better understand why elder law planning is, in addition to estate planning, so important and critical to your health and well being. Let us share a few key examples where estate planning ends and elder law planning begins right here in our blog.


  1. Estate planning does not necessarily plan for long-term care, but it can help. Through your estate plan, specifically your durable power of attorney and health care documents, you will choose the person who can make decisions for you at a time you are incapacitated. This could be due to a surgery or a car accident, but it also could be the result of a medical condition such as Alzheimer's Disease or dementia. In these instances, while your estate planning document may not contemplate long-term care, it can give your agent the authority to both find you the care that you need and work with your Florida elder law attorney to find ways to pay for it. 


  1. Elder law planning addresses the gap in medical coverage for seniors. Unfortunately, the Medicare system is an acute payor system. This means that while Medicare will pay for your hospital stay and portions of your rehabilitation, it will not pay for the potential need for assisted living or skilled nursing home facility care. Most families today cannot afford the high cost of long-term care in a facility that can start at $4,000 or more per month. Through careful elder law planning with your experienced Florida elder law attorney, we can make a plan for how to find the care you need and a way to pay for it. In addition, there may be more options available the earlier that we plan.


  1. Long-term care planning is often overlooked by estate planning attorneys. Elder law is still a fairly young area of law. As more and more Americans age, however, there is an increasing need for elder law planning. Your elder law planning attorney will be able to make sure your estate planning is written in a way that allows for long-term care planning in the future. Your advanced directives and power of attorney do need specific language in them to be able to work when you need long-term care planning, which may come at a time when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.


Estate planning is always a wise first step but it is just that, the first step. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Do not wait to contact our law practice to learn more today. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting. To learn more about Meloro Law and how we can help you when you need legal representation for estate planning or elder law issues do not wait to call us today.