What is the Difference Between Estate Planning and Elder Law?

What is the Difference Between Estate Planning and Elder Law?

There is a lot to consider when making estate plans. Legal issues, health concerns, and costs may all be changing as family members work to make sure their aging loved ones are cared for in the best way possible. Two terms that come up often in this stage of life are estate planning and elder law. As you work to care for your loved one, you may be wondering, “What is the difference between estate planning and elder law?” Our attorneys at the Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. are here to answer this question and other legal advice related to the legal services, health, and estate care of your family member.

What is Estate Planning?

Someone’s “estate” includes everything they own. Proper estate plans may include someone’s home, car, additional real estate, bank accounts, life insurance, physical possessions, and/or investments. Regardless of how much or how little someone has accumulated in their lifetime, it still has to go somewhere after they pass. The process of estate planning determines how and where you want your estate to go while planning for the smallest impact on taxes, court, and legal costs.

What is Elder Law?

Elder law is a specialized law practice focused on caring for the decisions of someone who has become incapacitated and/or at the end of life. The training of elder law attorneys equips them to handle the specialized needs of older adults, such as concerns related to medical care, nursing homes, long-term care, or even crisis planning. At the Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, we are committed to welcoming you into a caring environment to discuss your concerns for your aging loved one.

Why Should I Hire An Elder Law Attorney?

Many people wonder if they need an elder law attorney. An elder law attorney is generally recommended for anyone after the age of 60 to begin preparing estate planning documents, power of attorney, etc. Even if you or your loved one have not encountered difficult health and/or end-of-life concerns, beginning your planning ahead of time can help assure that your wishes will be followed and the impact of probate and court delays will be minimized.

How do Estate Planning & Elder Law Work Together?

Estate planning and elder law go hand-in-hand because specialized elder care law attorneys are experts at estate planning. Because we understand the nuances of the law related to the care and concerns common for older adults, we can help you think through the many concerns that can arise during those years and effectively plan for the wishes you want to be carried out.

Whether you are just beginning to consider estate planning or elder law needs, or you have found yourself in a situation where you need to create plans and documents quickly, we can help. Please contact the Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. for all your elder care and estate planning needs!

At What Age Should a Person Contact an Elder Law Attorney?

At What Age Should a Person Contact an Elder Law Attorney?

As we age, many of us begin to consider issues we may have not thought about during our younger years. In addition to considerations like health and retirement, many people begin to ask questions about their finances and estate. What kind of support might I need as I age? How can I make sure I am not a burden to my children? What will happen to my assets once I am gone? At what age should I contact an elder law attorney?

These kinds of questions are common. Not knowing the answers is common too! The knowledgeable and compassionate staff at The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen are experts in elder law services, available to help older adults with legal matters related to aging and/or incapacitation so that your important wishes are documented and carried out.

Why is Elder Law an Important Practice Area?

Since 1965, the Older Americans Act (OAA) has been federally protecting certain services for senior citizens. From this, legal services were created to help older adults, resulting in the important, specialized practice of elder law. Working with an attorney with this specialty offers asset protection for older adults seeking to protect their estate from probate, unnecessary taxes, or decisions made by someone other than the trusted individual of your choice.

At What Age Should You Contact An Elder Law Attorney?

After recognizing that you may need specialized legal advice from an elder law attorney you may wonder, “When is the best time to contact an elder law attorney?”

As a general rule, elder care law may be sought after the age of 60.  It is recommended if you’re in your 60s or 70s, you may benefit from working with an elder law attorney. However, establishing basic estate planning documents such as a power of attorney or healthcare surrogate are recommended as soon as you become a legal adult at the age of 18.

By contacting an elder law attorney during these years, you have the advantage of considering legal issues with someone who specializes in concerns that can develop in someone’s older years. Additionally, you can also factor in more immediate life changes that may be occurring such as retirement, changing from full-time to part-time work, and/or any health conditions that may later require nursing home care or power of attorney.

While immediate and long-term care planning may seem like a lot to consider, having these discussions now ensures that your health, financial, and/or estate decisions will be carried out should you become incapacitated. And, it also protects your family members or parties of interest that you wish to be provided for following your passing.

Let Our Elder Law Attorneys Care for Your Specialized Needs

We recognize that no matter your age, it can be difficult to consider end-of-life or incapacitation issues. However, doing so with an expert in these matters can make it easier, offer peace of mind, and help you feel confident that you have made wise, protected choices for yourself and your loved ones whenever those difficult days come. Contact our elder care law firm experts at The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen today.

Elder Care Tip: Have an Emergency Plan

Elder Care Tip: Have an Emergency Plan


Today’s tip of the day for case management is to have an emergency plan. Ask yourself some questions. If you were to fall ill tomorrow and you had to go to the hospital, do you have someone to lean on? Have you written down your preferences? Do you know what hospital you would want to go to, what pharmacies you’d want to use? Even if it were a long stay, do you know what rehabilitation facilities you would want to use or what home health agencies you’d want to use?

Think about your trusted person, do they know your preferences? Have you written them down? If you haven’t, then now is a good time to start. And if you are not so sure how to start with all of those options and need some help, a case manager is right there for you. They’re in touch with these agencies all the time and oftentimes can tell you the good and the bad about many of them, even payer sources, and how to get help to pay for some of these things if they’re not covered by insurance.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, At the Law Offices of Amy B. Van Fossen, we’re always here to help. Contact us with any questions regarding case management.


Amy B. Van Fossen Celebrates 18 Years Practicing Elder Law

Amy B. Van Fossen Celebrates 18 Years Practicing Elder Law

The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen is celebrating 18 years as a legal service specializing in estate planning, elder law, and closely related practice areas.

How We Began

The former Law Office of Amy B. Jackson P.A. officially became the Law Office of Amy B. Fossen P.A. in 2004. Ms. Van Fossen established a practice in Brevard County that would serve Florida’s interests related to elder care, including multiple specialties. Through the years, specialties have expanded to include Estate Planning, Case Management, Guardianship, Probate, VA Planning, Medicaid Planning, Silver Divorce, and Civil Litigation. The most recent specialty is Trust Management, including Trust Maintenance.

Ms. Van Fossen’s road to serving the elder community in Florida began with an undergraduate degree in Organizational Behavior from Rollins College, followed by her JD from Barry University School of Law earned in 2003. She was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2004.

Why We Are “Family”

When establishing her company, Ms. Van Fossen realized that many people need or want legal counsel but may be intimidated by the idea of talking with a lawyer. Her goal was to create a comfortable, relaxed environment where people could ask important questions. One of the goals of the company is to become your “counselors for life.” They achieve this by listening to your goals and concerns, getting to know you, and offering legal solutions in easy to understand language. In all these years, more than a few clients have become lifelong friends through this process.

In addition to this comfortable environment for you and your family, The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen has quite literally become a family affair as well. Ms. Van Fossen’s two daughters, Katie and Savannah, also share her passion for the elder community. Katie is now a second-generation attorney, chairing the Probate, Medicaid, & VA departments for The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. And, Savannah is also contributing to the care of the elder as an RN.

Interests, Awards, and Accolades

Ms. Van Fossen’s passion for elder care has earned her and her company many accolades, including:

  • Client Champion 2021 – An exclusive achievement that fewer than 1% attain
  • Accreditation by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for Aid and Attendance Claims, making her one of Brevard County’s only VA accredited attorneys
  • Business Partner of the Year for Holland & Palm Bay Elementary Schools (2015-2016)
  • Overall Small Business Partner of the Year Award for Brevard County Public Schools (2016)
  • Business Spotlight for Florida Today (May 2015)

In addition to these business recognitions, Ms. Van Fossen herself has a strong personal interest in local youth, animal rescue, and supporting individuals with special needs. She is a Club Esteem Ambassador which serves youth from economically disadvantaged communities.

Where We Are Now

From its establishment in 2004, The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen now has three additional full-time attorneys as well as ten employees who serve as legal assistants, benefits specialists, paralegals, case management, administrators, and office assistants in our new location in downtown Melbourne, Florida.

At The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, we are proud of our 18 years of elder care law serving Florida residents in and around Florida’s Space Coast. For all your elder law needs, please contact our caring team at 321.345.5945. We look forward to meeting with you!

Things to Consider if You Need an Elder Law Attorney

Things to Consider if You Need an Elder Law Attorney

As our loved ones age, we face new and complex issues, such as estate planning, retirement planning, possible disabilities, nursing home care, and financial planning. Without the right advice and proper planning, an illness can quickly turn into complicated and expensive challenges. The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. understands how personal elder law planning matters are and wants our clients to feel comfortable when discussing these important issues.

What is an elder law attorney?

Elder law attorneys specialize in helping families as their loved ones age, navigating a wide range of legal matters. These may include health care, long-term care planning, guardianship, retirement, public benefits, etc. They assist with trusts, wills, probate and probate avoidance, and drafting important legal documents like durable powers of attorney, advanced directives, and living wills.

When should I hire an elder law attorney?


There is not a specific age for hiring an elder law attorney.  In fact, it is recommended to have basic estate planning documents, such as a power of attorney and healthcare surrogate, as early as the age of 18 in order to plan for emergent situations.  Additionally, an elder law attorney is helpful at any time when an individual is getting older and needs an advocate for legal issues. Older individuals who hire an elder law attorney will benefit by protecting their finances, having someone to help navigate elder law issues regarding their estate, and an advocate who will assist in family decisions or disputes.

Why do I specifically need an elder law attorney?


An elder law lawyer focuses on serving the needs of a particular client, unlike other lawyers who focus on a specific area of the law. They serve as advocates for their clients, helping them navigate laws, and are well-versed in options for assistance, government benefits, and the well-being of seniors and disabled persons. 

What types of questions should I ask an elder law attorney?


There is a lot of specialization among attorneys. Even if the lawyer is an elder law attorney, they may have a specific specialty within the elder law field, such as Medicaid and VA planning. You want to ensure that the attorney you choose to hire for your loved one specializes in the areas of elder law that are relevant to your situation. Some questions to ask may include:

  • How long have you practiced law?
  • How much time do you devote to elder law?
  • Do you have a specific emphasis on elder law?
  • What information should I bring with me to our initial meeting?
  • How do you bill your clients?


What is the difference between estate planning and elder law?


Estate planning and elder law often get confused with one another because of the overlap that exists between establishing what happens to your money when you die (estate planning) and managing your money while you are alive but older and in poor health (elder law).

Elder law is an important and specialized subject that is tied to the protection and care of your aging loved one. If you would like to discuss any of these subjects further or inquire about representation, please contact us at The Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. Law Office.

Helping to Navigate the Complexities of Life as we Age

Helping to Navigate the Complexities of Life as we Age

Many older adults find it difficult to remain independent. Simple abilities like driving, taking medications, or running errands become much more difficult tasks to the person who is losing their vision, hearing, or even just using an assistive device such as a walker. Because many people choose to move to Florida after they retire, their families are often geographically distant and are not always able to help oversee medical care for their loved one. Seniors and their families need help navigating the complex world of senior resources, including complex government and insurance regulations, and management of their personal and medical needs. A geriatric Case Manager can help do just that. They also help families of seniors to maintain their own independence, assuring that loved ones are in safe and knowledgeable hands. 

Geriatric Case Management is a profession dedicated to assisting elderly people and their families by developing plans for long-term care, as well as living arrangements. Case Management also involves assessment of needs, coordination, and management of daily and long-term support services, including medical, social, legal, financial, housing, family, and personal needs.

Who Needs a Case Manager?

More and more people are turning to Geriatric Case Managers. These professionals handle everything from assuring that the person is eating properly to arranging for legal and financial services. By serving as the family’s eyes and ears, a geriatric Case Manager provides peace of mind. Having a Case Manager offers seniors and their families a comprehensive range of services with a distinctly personal touch. The Case Manager’s purpose is to help clients maintain quality of life, independence, and personal dignity by carefully assessing their needs and providing the most desirable, yet affordable solution, and monitoring progress. 

Is Case Management Affordable?

Although Case Management services are typically paid at an hourly rate, most families find that the service is invaluable. Not only can a Case Manager save your family time and frustration by tending to everyday needs, but a geriatric Case Manager is often able to save the client thousands of dollars in other areas by reducing hospitalization costs through continuous medical monitoring and guiding toward the appropriate resources for financial and estate planning.

How Do I Communicate with My Case Manager?

Your Case Manager will be in contact with you periodically to simply check in and see if you have any need for services. It is encouraged that you reach out to your Case Manager directly anytime there is a change in your baseline status. This means if you have a hospitalization, change in your primary caregiver or physician, change to your address or living environment, or change to your physical abilities.

Your Case Manager is available in crisis as well as just to answer questions. He/she will be available by cell, email, or through the direct line at the offices. You will be given a magnet as well as a wallet card that will indicate contact information for your Case Management team. Please share a copy of this card with your medical team when you are at physician appointments, move into an assisted living or skilled facility, or in the hospital. Your medical professionals can copy it and keep it on file along with your insurance cards. It is also recommended that you store your case manager’s phone number in your cell phone under “ICE CASE MANAGER”. “ICE” stands for “in case of emergency.”

If you believe you would benefit from a Case Manager send us an email or give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you.