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Elder Law vs. Estate Planning

Many people have difficulty describing the difference between what a traditional estate planning attorney offers his or her clients versus what an elder law attorney offers his or her clients.

The easy answer is that an estate planning attorney addresses the common issue of what happens to one's assets at death.  In a traditional estate planning setting, much emphasis is placed on minimizing estate taxes, as well as insuring the most efficient and least restrictive means of transferring wealth to others.

For years this "what happens when I die approach" has been all that people have been familiar with.  But as people are living longer and the cost for healthcare is rising, the more appropriate question that should be posed to senior clients is "what happens if you live".  More specifically, what will happen if you live but are not healthy and need to rely on others for assistance, either temporarily or permanently. The potential costs for community based care and care in a skilled nursing facility can be daunting and can quickly deplete a nest egg.

To put it another way, a traditional estate plan will make sure that your assets are passed in the manner you desire.  However, it neglects to address the more important issue: will you have any assets left to pass on to others when you meet your demise.  A lengthy illness, hospital and/or nursing home stay could leave your spouse and other heirs with nothing.

A long-term care plan can accomplish both goals: (1) distributing assets in the manner you choose, while (2) insuring that there are assets available to do so.

For additional information, please visit my website (  If you or a loved one have concerns about whether your assets are or can be protected, contact me at (508) 797-3010 or e-mail me at [email protected]). 

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Worcester Law Office