We frequently get asked to speak to audiences about estate planning and elder law. After the topics are introduced and discussions begin, the most common question we get asked is: What's the difference between estate planning and elder law? And we always answer the question, with a question, because it's the easiest way to understand the difference. In other words, estate planning really asks the question: “What happens when I die”? By contrast, Elder law planning addresses the questions surrounding: “What happens if I live - and live, and live?” While planning for death is important, to us, planning for life is essential. In other words, we believe you should be able to live at home for as long as you want, and, if expensive long term care becomes a necessity for you, you should have an estate plan that enables you to get that care, without becoming impoverished.
Now we realize the overlap between estate planning and elder law is very confusing to most people, so let's explore these topics a bit more.
First, you should know that while ALL elder law planning attorneys are estate planning attorneys, very few estate planning attorneys are specialists in elder law. In other words, elder law attorneys address their client's estate planning needs, such as avoiding probate proceedings, while assisting them leave their estate to their loved ones in a well thought out manner. But in addition to these death time concerns, we help people live the way they want to live, and not in a way they are forced to live, simply because they run out of resources.
How, you wonder?
Well, we do it by creating elder law focused estate plans that enable seniors to access public benefits. The type of benefits available to seniors can vary quite a bit, but in general, there are three main benefits we focus on with our clients:
- The first is Medi-Cal In-Home Care Support Services, which is a government program that provides money to pay for caregivers which help seniors age in place in their home.
- The second benefit we're proud to help Veterans and their widows obtain is VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefits. VA Pension benefits provide much needed funds to help pay for long term care services, either at home, OR, if need be, in a more formal setting.
And, of course,
- We ensure our clients can obtain long term care Medi-Cal Benefits which helps pay for skilled nursing facility costs, the most expensive care out there.
However, you should know that not everyone is going to qualify for every benefit, and public benefit laws are extraordinarily complicated. Having said that though, we've successfully helped countless seniors get the care they need and not become impoverished as their care costs rise.
But the main point that most people fail to understand is that if you are incapacitated and want to access public benefits so that you do not become impoverished, you MUST have an elder law focused estate plan. Unfortunately, most seniors do not speak with an elder law attorney and they end up only creating a probate avoidance estate plan, which oftentimes forces them to go broke before they can qualify for public benefits. To us, there is nothing more sad than seeing helpless elderly people go broke in their golden years, simply because they did not get the right kind of estate planning help.
So if you are over the age of 65 and are not a multi-millionaire, please do yourself a favor and make sure you speak with an elder law attorney about your estate planning needs.
Here at Kaiden Elder Law Group, PC, we specialize in elder law focused estate plans. To ensure that your estate plan helps you receive long term care without becoming impoverished, please call (661) 247-8433 or contact us for a consultation.