It is very common. When you discover that an attorney builds estate plans, you may see “elder law” as a separate practice area. Though the skills attorneys develop through crafting estate plans may lay the foundation for a career in elder law, they are still two disciplines. Furthermore, you will discover they are answers to two different questions.
When you approach an estate planning attorney, you want to know what happens when you pass away. What happens to your assets and debts? Your property and belongings should be given to designated beneficiaries—and your debts need to be handled accordingly.
The easy things get overlooked. Accessing your bank account and paying your bills may seem trivial to you, but it is a massive roadblock for those you leave behind. Estate planning is a method by which you can address these eventualities. You may not know what the future holds, but you and your attorney can prepare for it.
Elder law answers the opposite question. How am I going to live and maintain my quality of life? People in the later stages of life may develop a need for long-term care—i.e., a nursing home. It isn’t unreasonable to expect some of these facilities to cost upwards of $7,500 a month. And they could be living in these facilities for several years. Imagine facing ten years of nursing home costs.
Recognizing a Crisis
If you are the person in the above example who is staring down the possibility of a decade’s worth of nursing home costs—and you haven’t planned for it—you are in a crisis. It is a term that many elder law attorneys use. Furthermore, they have solutions. The goal is to find the care you need without giving away every asset to pay for it.
Many people make the mistake of trying to resolve this issue without receiving legal advice. Selling your home for $1 to your children so you can qualify for governmental assistance will not achieve the outcome you hoped for. In all likelihood, it may only complicate your life.
If elder law is the answer to this problem, estate planning is a means of preventing it from happening.
Kevin Tharpe, P.C.
Though they are two distinct practice areas, attorney J. Kevin Tharpe has dedicated his career to understanding both. Whether you are just beginning a family or are in a crisis, we can help you find the solutions you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.