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How to Tell the Difference Between Elder and Estate Lawyers

Updated on August 11, 2014
by joemarotta65
by joemarotta65

If you’ve been thinking of planning or updating your estate, you may have encountered some people that suggest working with an estate planning attorney, while others recommend a working with an Elder lawyer. What exactly is the difference between the two types of attorneys?

In part, it depends if you are talking to an Elder lawyer or a probate or estate lawyer. Some people believe that Elder lawyers represent people as they focus on their life, while estate lawyers are focused entirely on an individual’s death.

In these cases, people are not focusing on the fact that there are many facets of estate planning. Estate planning doesn’t focus only on what happens after a person passes away – although that is an important part. Estate planning creates information that your loved ones can use to make decisions with regards to your wishes.

Estate Planning : Elder Law vs. Estate Planning

Some of the areas that estate planning attorneys can help you with is establishing your decisions about how your money will be spent during your lifetime and decisions about your health care. An estate attorney may advise you to create a power of attorney that allows a family member to make decisions for you if you are mentally or physically incapacitated.  You can specify how you want to receive medical attention, where you want to live, what assets would be sold, etc. This can be crucial information that your loved ones need to know.

Some people also make the argument that estate planning is just for wealthy individuals. That’s not true either. Estate planners can help understand the full ramifications of estate taxes that occur after your death and how you can protect your loved ones inheritance.  Even if you aren’t a millionaire, you still have assets that you want to designate to loved ones; you probably have personal property such as a car or house and need to make arrangements for that property. What about your children? If you have minor children, you want to make sure that these children have guardianship. Don’t assume that your property or guardianship of your children will automatically go to your surviving spouse. Without a will, all decisions regarding your estate can be up to the state government.

Some Elder Lawyers claim that they have a more holistic approach to a legal practice – because they are concerned with what’s happening in a person’s life, rather than their death.  That’s a very small way of looking at overall estate planning – an estate planning attorney helps you resolve decisions so that you can have peace of mind and enjoy spending time with your family.

It’s never too early to begin estate planning.  A qualified estate planning attorney can help you make decisions that will protect you and your loved ones, so you don’t have to worry about the future.


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      Amy Logan 3 years ago

      Estate planning is extremely important when making large financial decisions. As mentioned above it is misconstrued that only "rich people" are able to afford estate lawyers or planners but that is simply not the case. All of your belongings will one day be in somebody's hands, don't you think that alone is important enough to plan out?

      Amy Logan