Some people in California get elder law and estate planning mixed up. While there are some issues that cross over, these two areas of law are different. Estate planning generally concerns what happens to your property after you die while elder law focuses exclusively on medical and financial issues that may affect you while you are still alive.
An elder law attorney may help you to sort out some complex financial issues that could affect you as a senior. For example, you might have issues with a retirement account or want to set up a revocable living trust. Some people hire an elder law attorney when their spouse becomes incapacitated and they need to organize family finances and long-term care.
Elder law sometimes concerns medical issues like health care directives and powers of attorney. People that are concerned that their family members may not respect their medical wishes may discuss their options with an elder law attorney.
Dealing with Medicaid issues is a huge part of elder law. Since Medicaid has strict criteria for eligibility, some people need advice about how to handle their finances so that they do not become ineligible. In the event that you require long-term care, you may want to make sure that you will still be able to qualify for financial assistance.
State laws are important
It’s important to know that specific state laws affect many elder law issues. For example, even though Medicaid is a federal program, it is administered locally and the rules for eligibility vary from state to state. That’s why a seemingly minor mistake in your retirement planning could actually be very costly.