Estate Planning for Seniors, as the name of this practice area expresses, is primarily for seniors and disabled individuals for whom long-term care is or may soon be on the horizon. These individuals share some of the same goals as Traditional Estate Planning clients, such as avoiding probate and creating a comprehensive distribution plan to effectively take care of their spouse and children after their death, but they also have needs that Traditional Estate Planning usually doesn't address.
We utilize most of the same tools as in Traditional Estate Planning, such as Wills, Trusts and Powers of Attorney, but the whole plan, and the tools implementing it, are prepared with the potential for long-term care in mind. For example, a General Durable Power of Attorney is an important document that everyone 18 years of age or older should have as it allows the person named as the Attorney-in-Fact for the principal (the person for whom the power of attorney is prepared) to manage the principal's finances if the principal becomes incapacitated. For a person with long-term care on the horizon, the General Durable Power of Attorney is especially critical and should be designed and drafted in a way that permits the Attorney-in-Fact to carryout Long-Term Care Planning, such as Medicaid Planning or Veterans Benefit Planning, on behalf of the principal. The critical provisions that permit Long-Term Care Planning are usually absent from a General Durable Power of Attorney prepared for Traditional Estate Planning purposes only or by an attorney who only does traditional estate planning. I often have new clients for whom long-term care is on the horizon tell me he or she already has a General Durable Power of Attorney. However, in most of these cases, unless a qualified elder law attorney prepared the General Durable Power of Attorney, it was drafted without any thought to long-term planning and it will not permit the Attorney-in-Fact to engage in the type of long-term care planning the client may desperately need.
The above example is one of several significant differences between Traditional Estate Planning and Estate Planning for people in their senior years. If you are a prospective client, you don't have to decide which type of estate planning you need before contacting us. We'll figure that out with you as we get to know you and your family and financial situation.
If you are ready to schedule an Initial Consultation, please call us at (816) 479-2930.