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Elder law may be new estate planning focus in coming year

Since the beginning of the New Year, we’ve noted that long-standing uncertainties about the estate tax have been resolved by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA). The law, as we’ve noted, makes permanent the system that has been in place over the last two years. This means that taxpayers will continue to enjoy an exemption of over $5 million.

Now, far fewer people need to worry about estate tax. For attorneys, the decision will make tax planning easier, at least from the perspective of keeping tabs on the exemption amount. Because of the change, the field estate planning will now be going through a period of readjustment, or refocus, in which attorneys and their clients can focus on other estate planning concerns.

One area that could experience growing attention, according to commentators, is the field of elder law. Elder law deals not only with asset transfers, but also with the quality of life people experience as they come into the later years. One special areas of concern here is Medicaid planning.

Generally speaking, Medicaid planning can be looked at as any steps a person takes in preparing their Medicaid application. From the perspective of an estate planning attorney, this often means restructuring the applicants assets so they their monthly income. Medicaid planning is an important adjunct to estate planning, because it allows families to ensure the best possibility of acceptance into the Medicaid program.

Working with an experienced attorney is important when going through the Medicaid planning process.

Source: Forbes, “Morphing Into The New Age Of Estate Planning,” Deborah L. Jacobs, January 15, 2012