Fluent in Elder Law
I just finished looking at a county bar association listing of attorneys who identify themselves as elder law attorneys. Frankly, I was a little surprised to see that some individuals who are general practitioners also consider themselves to be elder law attorneys. I was disturbed when I saw this, because drafting simple wills and trusts does not qualify an attorney to be an elder law attorney. Wills and trusts may be part of the elder law process at times—but there is so much more involved than that! Furthermore, litigating cases that have nothing to do with probate or other issues that touch the elderly does not qualify an attorney to be an elder law attorney. Will the real elder law attorney please stand up? When trying to find an “elder law”-focused attorney, it’s important to understand how elder law differs from traditional estate planning. Estate planning, at its simplest, is death planning. A traditional estate plan is typically designed to do three things:
- Minimize estate taxes; and
- Avoid probate court; and
- Distribute assets from the deceased to the deceased’s heirs.