Throughout our lives, we acquire assets, build estates, and plan for our futures. But as we age, the reality of our mortality begins to creep into our thoughts and plans. Consequently, elder law and estate planning may become topics of consideration. With that in mind, you may seek compassionate legal services at Burzynski Elder Law.

But what’s the difference between the two? Although the two areas overlap, they are distinct legal practices. Let’s examine each in detail to provide a clearer understanding.

Elder Law


As the term suggests this legal specialty focuses on issues affecting the elderly and those qualified for Social Security Disability Income. It covers various aspects geared toward ensuring seniors lead comfortable, secure lives. These include:

  • Preventing exploitation – elder care generally ensures you don’t face abuse and ensures your medical needs as you age are catered for, even if you’re incapacitated. And truth be told, old age can be a disadvantage, as others may seek to benefit from your vulnerability. Fortunately, an elder law attorney can create a plan to protect your assets and ensure you continue leading a normal life later in life.
  • Retirement planning – this is a mainstay of elder law. It ensures you remain financially stable in your golden years and provides solutions that can help if you outlive your retirement funds. Your attorney can use their knowledge and experience to craft a tailored plan by factoring in your income, debts, assets, and the cost of living.
  • Long-term healthcare support – a core aspect of long-term healthcare involves meeting the qualifications for Medicaid – the government’s healthcare program for low-income earners, including elderly adults. This can help seniors cover their care and medical costs once the assets are spent down. For starters, the spend-down period is a set time during which an individual’s medical needs exceed their available assets or income, making them eligible for Medicaid. An elder law attorney can help you meet your state’s asset tests by crafting a long-term plan that secures your assets. By so doing, you don’t have to lose them if your health issues become too demanding.
  • Guardianships and conservatorships – guardianship gives family members the legal right to handle your affairs if you’re incapacitated due to health conditions or old age. This includes taking over your financial and medical matters. A conservatorship offers a court-appointed official the authority to manage your affairs in such a situation. An elder law attorney can help you secure guardianship or conservatorship for your loved one to protect them and manage their assets.

Essentially, elder law entails safeguarding your assets when you’re alive. That way, you can enjoy security, knowing that your money and assets will be taken care of and used appropriately.

Estate Planning


In the broadest sense, estate planning seeks to maximize the transfer of your wealth to your beneficiaries after you pass away – the main distinction between it and elder law planning. An estate plan might contain several components, such as:

  • Last will and testament – a legal document outlining how you want your property to be distributed upon death. It can ensure your wishes are carried out in case of death.
  • Living trusts – also known as revocable trusts, living trusts are complex instruments set up to manage your assets during your lifetime and distribute them after your death. This planning tool can help you avoid probate fees, minimize taxes, and protect your assets.
  • Tax planning – involves using legal instruments such as trusts, gifting strategies, and other techniques to minimize the tax implications when transferring assets to your heirs upon death.
  • Power of attorney – this document gives another individual legal authority to make decisions on your behalf in case of your death or incapacity. Case in point, a medical power of attorney allows your chosen representative to make decisions regarding your medical treatment if you cannot do so.

Estate planning through an attorney can help ensure your financial affairs are in order. Thus, you and your family can rest easy knowing that your assets will be responsibly managed when you’re gone.


Also, remember that your estate plan should be like a revolving door, adjusting as your circumstances or those of the beneficiaries change. For instance, if you have a new grandchild, you might change your estate plan to benefit them. Your legal ally can tweak your strategy to accommodate such events. Thus, it pays to review your estate plan regularly to ensure it meets your needs.

Unlike elder law planning, estate planning isn’t a preserve of the elderly; anyone can do it. So, considering an estate plan is a smart move regardless of your age or financial expectations.

Plus, an estate plan is not a guarantee that you’ll have assets to pass on to your heirs upon your demise. But if you do, it can help ensure they end up in the right hands.

Which Option Should You Choose?


Without question, old age increases the likelihood of health issues. As such, your life savings become increasingly vulnerable. To safeguard your assets, you have two options – elder law and estate planning.

Typical nursing home care costs run about $150,000 annually per person. Thus, estate law planning would suffice if your assets can ensure your long-term wellbeing – if your funds won’t run out over time. Conversely, if your financial resources cannot accommodate nursing costs indefinitely, talk to an elder care legal professional. They can help chart a course to protect your assets from depletion or pursue alternatives.

That said, you need a solid elder law plan for your heirs to have an estate. This implies you should start estate planning early, but you need to be smart about it. Thus, ensure you have an organized elder law plan to safeguard your assets. By so doing, you can rest assured that your heirs’ financial security won’t be on the line.

Financial security is critical, especially if your health takes a turn for the worse. You can protect your assets by ensuring you have an estate or elder law plan. Talk to a competent elder law attorney to determine the ideal option based on your situation.