Elder Law–It’s Not Just for Elders

Elder Law is a very broad area of law that encompasses not just Medicaid and Veterans long-term care planning for people over 65.  Elder Law also encompasses legal areas such as:  Asset Protection, Trust and Estate Planning, and Incapacity Planning for people of ALL ages; Special Needs Trusts for families with a disabled child or other loved one with special needs; Guardianship and Conservatorship for special needs children turning age 18; Guardianship and Conservatorship for Incapacitated Adults; Estate Tax Avoidance for high-net-worth families; and Probate / Trust and Estate Administration for families after the death of a loved one.

Jillian and Peter were in their early 30’s. They had been married for three years and were the parents of two-year old twins, Ethan and Mason. They had just purchased their starter home. Back then, when they talked about the future, it typically involved putting money away for the education of their children or taking a family trip to Disney World. For them, Elder Law or Estate Planning was not yet part of their conversation, until they realized that it needed to be.

When Jillian and Peter thought about Elder Law or Estate Planning, they envisioned people the age of their parents who are retiring and planning for their futures. They had this perception until their closest friends, Joe and Jennifer, told them that they met with a Certified Elder Law Attorney to begin their own estate planning. Joe and Jennifer wanted to make sure that their kids would be raised by Joe’s sister, who shares their religion and family values, should the inevitable happen. This got Jillian and Peter to thinking “what would happen to their children if one or both of them became incapacitated or died in an accident?” These circumstances are painful to think about, which is why many young people like Jillian and Peter often do not consider the consequences of not having an estate plan.

Although contemplating your mortality may not be pleasant, it’s a must if you and your spouse are new parents or considering starting a family. Creating an estate plan now will ensure the financial well-being of your children if you or your spouse become incapacitated or die.

Estate Planning and Elder Law techniques are different for the younger generation than those in their 50’s and 60’s, but equally as important . Let’s take a closer look at why Estate Planning and Elder Law are in fact essential, no matter how old you are, using Jillian and Peter from our example:

In their 20s: Jillian and Peter just finished school and started their careers. They were engaged, but not married yet, and as mentioned previously, hadn’t started thinking about Estate Planning. If they had, this would have been a good time for them to choose their financial and healthcare agents and create their Powers of Attorney and Advance Medical Directives. These are documents to have in place for ALL adults, regardless of age.

Intheir 30s: Jillian and Peter got married, purchased a home, and had children – twins Ethan and Mason. They chose guardians for their young children in case of death, and temporary guardians in case of incapacity; they decided how their joint property will be distributed, and got serious about life insurance. By the time they did their planning, Mason had already been diagnosed fairly high on the Autism Spectrum Disorder scale, so they created a Special Needs Trust to make sure that Mason would be taken care of and his needs would always be met.

In their 40s: Jillian and Peter have worked hard and saved, and with their Certified Elder Law Attorney, they have started to think more about the best way to protect their assets with trusts and tax planning.

In their 50s: Ethan has moved out, gotten married, and has had a daughter, and Mason needed to move into a group home to help meet his needs. Jillian and Peter met with their Certified Elder Law Attorney to discuss their options, which included Guardianship, SSI and Medicaid planning for their adult son.

In their 60s: Jillian and Peter are ready for retirement! Since they have been keeping up with their planning through the decades, they will now make changes to account for the marriage of their son, the birth of their grandchild, and their own relocation to someplace warm and sunny. They begin to think about their own long-term care planning.

In their 70s and beyond: Peter is beginning to experience signs of dementia. Jillian and Peter meet with their Certified Elder Law Attorney to discuss Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection to protect them from having to go broke to pay for nursing home care, while ensuring the best possible care and the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home.

As you can see by our example, Elder Law and Estate Planning doesn’t start when you are “elderly”– it is something that should start when you first become an adult and continue throughout your lifetime. Your life goes through incredible changes each decade; therefore, you should look at Elder Law and Estate Planning as gradual processes, rather than a one-time ordeal. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to begin your process. Call the Fairfax Elder Law and Estate Planning Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment today for an initial consultation!

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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