What's the difference between an Elder Law Attorney and an Estate Planning Attorney?
This week Seattle-area Elder Law Attorney, Rajiv Nagaich spoke at a NAELA Conference on how the practice of Elder Law is different from Estate Planning. As Rajiv says each Saturday on his AgingOptions Radio show, Estate Planning is “about who gets what when you die.” In addition, Estate Planning Attorneys are looking to keep your estate taxes as low as possible. That means they focus on Wills, Powers of Attorney and Trusts. None of those are bad things. Every week, people come into our office and walk out with documents that include Wills, Powers of Attorney and Trusts. So what’s different?
An Elder Law Attorney helps you plan for when you die but they go one very important step further. They also plan for if you live. If you live and you have suffered a stroke or some other disabling health crisis, then what? Most of us don’t just pass away. Some of us will live with limitations either cognitively or physically for years before we die. Those limitations can suck the lifeblood right out of any hope you might entertain about leaving your children or other beneficiaries any inheritance but they can also bleed your assets dry for your own use.
Because they focus on maximizing your income and assets so that you can experience aging on your terms, Elder Law Attorneys look at important data points such as:
- 70 percent of Americans will spend some time in a nursing home
- The average nursing home stay is 3 years
- A semi-private room in a nursing homes costs on average nearly $100,000 a year in the United States (The Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton area rank as the 9th highest in the nation at about $131,750 a year for a private room)
- About 50 percent of Long-Term Care insurance claims begin not with a nursing home stay but for receiving care at home
They then help their clients plan for ways to avoid those situations if possible and when it’s not possible, they help clients make the best possible choices for their life. An Elder Law Attorney is necessary if you want to age-in-place and be able to afford to have the independence and control to do it in a manner that you choose.
So, who needs an Elder Law Attorney? Anyone who can’t afford to pay the annual costs for Long-Term Care for an indefinite time. Think of Elder Law Attorneys and Estate Planning Attorneys as tools you have in your toolbox. If you need a screwdriver, the hammer won’t work just as well. Pick the right tool for the situation you have.
For a more in-depth look at the difference between Estate Planning Attorneys and Elder Law Attorneys, please come to one of our free seminars.
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