Many people hear the term “elder law” and are not certain about all that it entails, so we would like to provide a brief overview. In essence, elder law involves helping people make preparations for all of the eventualities of aging. One of the primary areas of focus for most elder law attorneys is going to be estate planning. You might think that passing along your assets to your heirs should be a very simple matter that doesn’t take a great deal of expertise. Unfortunately, this is not the case if you want to make sure that these assets stay intact when it is time for your heirs to receive their inheritances.
The estate tax is a harsh one, coming in with a 55% maximum rate in 2011 with a mere $1 million exclusion. So to toss out a quick example if your estate was worth $4 million and you did nothing to gain tax efficiency, $3 million of that would be taxed at 55%. That is $1.65 million your heirs would be paying the IRS; that $4 million you worked all your life to accumulate is now $2.35 million.
Implementing strategies that allow for the transfer of assets without the transaction being subject to this federal levy is one of the responsibilities of an elder law attorney. But in addition to financial matters, many elder law attorneys help their clients prepare for possible physical issues. As people are living longer and medical science advances if has become increasingly likely that you may spend some time in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
The average cost for a year in a private room in a nursing home in New Jersey in 2010 was over $112,000 a year. How will you pay for this? Does Medicare cover it? These are some of the questions that elders have as they attempt to negotiate their way through their twilight years, and elder law professionals are dedicated to doing everything possible to provide them with the answers they are seeking.