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  • Denise Ruiz

Difference between Elder Law and Estate Planning

Updated: Sep 1


How they differ yet complement each other


What is Elder Law?

Elder Law is a dedicated area of legal practice focused on matters for aging and older individuals. Elder law addresses issues that typically occur later in life. Most of the matters have to do with housing, financial well-being, health and long-term care and the autonomy and quality of life. It takes a holistic approach to ensure the individual’s quality of life is

not compromised and their wishes are being

fulfilled all while keeping their financial stability.


The individual’s wishes and needs are arranged so that they are carried out during the person’s lifetime and after their passing. Having an open conversation with your family and those closest to you can help avoid any contestation or potential disputes. This also helps prepare yourself and your family for any questionable circumstances.


An elder law attorney can assess your wishes and create a plan that best suits your needs. They have a good understanding of the elder issues and will keep in mind what you desire. Matters to consider while crafting a plan include long term care options, financial planning and end-of-life distribution of assets.

Although most matters addressed in elder law are meant for the aging population, getting started on the planning earlier in life makes it most effective, allowing the wishes to be clearly expressed. It is always good practice to review your legal documents periodically, especially when major life changes occur, ensuring those wishes are clearly stated.


Some of the most relatable elder law matters include:

  • Estate Planning including Wills and Trusts

  • Advance Directives (Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Living Will)

  • Guardianship and Conservatorship

  • Probate and Trust Administration

  • Medicaid Planning

  • Preservation and/or Transfer of Assets

  • Long-term care insurance

  • Long-term care placement

  • Disability Planning


What is Estate Planning?


Estate Planning focuses on your finances and assets and devises a plan for how you want them handled during your lifetime and after your death. A plan is crafted to suit your financial and personal needs and drafted according to your wishes. Your estate plan allows you to make specific decisions regarding your estate, asset distribution and beneficiaries. Not having an estate plan poses a risk that your assets will be distributed to your heirs according to the law within your state.


Part of creating an estate plan is making sure to appoint someone that will manage your affairs when you are no longer able to, whether it be due to incapacity, disability or death. This person is known as your Executor. This person can be your spouse, a close relative or a trusted friend.


An estate planning attorney will assist you by drafting legal documents to declare your wishes. The attorney can use several tax-planning strategies to minimize estate taxes and probate costs. Whether you are planning for the immediate or distant future, the documents should clearly state what your plans are for your estate, well-being and family’s legacy.


Estate planning can also include a plan for your family, not just a sole individual or a couple. Families with minor children can designate ahead of time who they would want to care for their children if something happens to them. Preneed Guardian Designation and Special Needs Planning can be incorporated into your plan. And, you can even include your pets!


Estate Planning may consist of some of the following:

  • Last Will & Testament

  • Advance Directives (Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Living Will)

  • Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts

  • Special Needs Trust

  • Enhanced Life Estate Deed

  • Guardianship and Conservatorships (for Minors and Elders)

  • Funeral or memorial services

  • Asset Protection

  • Beneficiary Designations

  • Probate and Trust Administration


How do they complement each other?


While elder law may appear at first glance to be only for the elderly, this is not the case. Many matters concerning elders may appear before they’ve reached old age. Preparing ahead of time allows for a more holistic and effective approach ensuring your plan is in order. Although estate planning is also generally considered for the wealthy or individuals with large estates, it really is for anyone that wants to protect their assets and leave a lasting legacy.


Although some of the matters differ, both elder law and estate planning have the same objective in helping clients achieve their goals while preserving their assets for themselves and their families and loved ones.


The purpose of working with an elder law attorney and discussing your goals with them is to have them guide you and provide the best recommendations suited for you, keeping in mind your best interest and that of your loved ones. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your wishes are being fulfilled and will continue to be even after you have passed on. It’s never too early to begin planning.


Call us today to schedule your consultation with one of our attorneys. They can build a strategy for you that will protect your legacy for years to come.



Visit our website for more information: www.elderlawfl.com

Call us at 561-588-7512 or 888-552-7512


Read our blog on Estate Planning in a Time of Uncertainty to learn more about some of the documents recommended for estate planning.


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Lantana, FL 33462
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