The Murray Firm: Why Elder Law & Estate Planning is Essential | Morris Bernards Moms


Do you have a “what if” family care plan? We sat down with The Murray Firm, based in Bernardsville to talk about what Elder Law is and why Estate Planning is essential for every family. “Helping families prepare for the care of their loved ones and avoiding the devastating financial toll of long term care is our number one priority. We guide families through the inevitable changing circumstances that come with aging so they have options and are prepared for every step of the care journey.” Read our interview below to find out why you should be prepared for the future.

What exactly is Elder Law and why is it important?
As a practicing elder law attorney, I am often confronted with the most obvious questions; What do you do exactly? How are you any different from an Estate Planning Attorney?

Elder law has become a growing specialty in this country over the past 50 years. The main reason for this trend is the increase in life expectancy of our seniors caused by advancements in medicine and healthcare. Recent statistics estimate that the average man will have a life expectancy of 83 years and the average woman will have a life expectancy of over 85 years. This is an unprecedented trend in history. In order to manage this situation, the federal government has taken on the financial burden of long term care for many Americans and enacted statutes to regulate federal assistance. The result is a labyrinth of rules and regulations that are confusing and difficult to navigate. For this reason, the practice of elder law developed to address the range of legal issues facing members of our aging society such as: housing for seniors, managing financial affairs, paying for medical care, government benefits for long term care, and tax issues related to medical care.

The practice of Elder law consists of navigating the healthcare, government benefits, tax and finance laws that affect seniors in the most efficient and effective manner.

What is the difference between Elder Law and Estate Planning?
A good way of understanding the difference between elder law and estate planning is to explain the primary focus of each. Estate planning focuses on what happens to a person’s assets upon their death, while trying to minimize taxes and efficiently distribute the assets to beneficiaries. Elder law focuses on what happens when one continues to live and has increasing care needs while taking into consideration finances and individual circumstances. An elder law attorney must be well versed in estate planning because it is an important part of long term care planning; however, the converse is not true because estate planning does not typically have the same focus on healthcare and eligibility for government benefits.

Is it important to have a Will?
Everyone who wants to ensure that their assets and property are distributed according to their wishes after they die should have a will. This includes people of all ages, regardless of the size or complexity of their estate. A will can also be used to name guardians for minor children and to specify other important details, such as funeral arrangements and charitable donations. It’s important to note that without a will, the laws of intestacy in your jurisdiction will determine how your assets are distributed, which may not align with your wishes.

What does an Estate Planning Attorney do?
An estate planning attorney helps individuals and families plan for the distribution of their assets and property after they die or become incapacitated. The attorney may help the client create a will or trust, as well as other documents such as powers of attorney and advance directives.

The attorney will work with the client to identify their goals and wishes for their estate and develop a comprehensive plan that reflects those goals. This can involve analyzing the client’s assets and determining the most effective ways to minimize taxes and avoid probate, among other considerations.

In addition to creating estate planning documents, an estate planning attorney may also assist with the administration of an estate after someone has died, such as by helping to settle debts, pay taxes, and distribute assets to beneficiaries. They can also provide guidance and legal representation in the event of a dispute or challenge to the estate plan or will.


This article was done in partnership with The Murray Firm. It is important that you seek out the right legal professional if you are faced with a legal issue in one of the following areas: financial long term care planning, age discrimination in employment, guardianships, veterans benefit planning, Medicaid planning and applications, special needs planning, and estate planning. Don’t try to navigate this maze alone. Seek the professional advice you deserve. Please call The Murray Firm, LLC at (908) 204-3477 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your personal situation.

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