In case you didn’t know, this is my first foray into the world of blogging. That being the case, I thought that I’d spend this month just explaining some of the more general concepts of Elder Law and Estate Planning; a general introduction to begin. Although they are pretty basic (at least to me), I’ve found that there are a large percentage of people that don’t know anything about these primary ideas.
The first concept is “What are Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Trusts and Estates?” Unlike tax law or criminal law or motor vehicle law, there is no one body of law that we (as attorneys) can go to. Instead, it’s a mixture of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Tax, Estates, Trusts, Mental Hygiene and even torts (personal injury) and Penal Law (criminal). The idea is that we look at all these types of law and see how they apply to our clients.
Digging a little deeper there really are two main concepts, Estate Planning and Asset Protection, which arise out of Elder Law and come into play. Estate Planning is simply making sure that whatever you have when you die goes to whomever you want it to go to. This is typically done by way of a Last Will and Testament or a Trust or some type of corporate succession plan. Asset Protection is making sure that you have something to actually pass to those people you named in your estate plan.
Now, the immediate question that comes to my mind is “who am I protecting my assets from?” Two of the largest “takers” of your assets are the government and the cost of your long term care. The government reduces your assets mainly in the form of taxes. They could be in the form of income tax, capital gains tax, gift tax or estate tax, to name a few. Long term care is basically you paying for home care or nursing care after a traumatic medical event.
In the coming months, I’ll discuss the various ways in which we can try to minimize what the government takes from us and the numerous changes in the laws, along with the various ways of then keeping your assets from the cost of nursing care. Along with all of that, I’ll try to keep you abreast of the various ways to move your assets from you to your loved ones, both during your lifetime and after you’ve passed. And, with a minimum amount of headache and loss to both you and your loved ones.