Article appears as it was written CapeCod.com
Consulting an attorney may seem like a daunting move that comes with many questions. Who do you consult? How do you know you’re getting the best advice? Who should you trust?
The team approach at Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. encourages collaboration not only with the attorneys and client, but with the client’s other professional connections, as well, such as financial planners, CPAs, insurance agents, etc. Each attorney brings their collective skills and experience to the table to create the best and most-effective plan of action to each client.
Associate Attorney Erin Nunes has been with the firm since 2004, starting out as a legal secretary before progressing to a paralegal, and is a committed advocate for the aging population. As an attorney, she exhibits a passion for helping clients reduce stress and anxiety associated with a loved one becoming ill, for protecting assets from long-term care, for tackling estate tax issues, and for protecting children’s inheritances from creditors.
“I was really inspired by the work we were doing, and I wanted to do more of it, so I went to law school at UMass Law in Dartmouth,” Nunes said “I worked at the firm during the day and took classes at night. I graduated four years later and then passed the bar exam. I’ve now been a practicing attorney with the firm for nearly six years. It’s amazing how fast the last sixteen have flown by!”
While the attorneys generally all practice elder law, including estate planning, estate administration, and trust administration, Nunes is the practice leader for its MassHealth department. “Even when I was a paralegal, that was a focus of mine and it has remained true.”
When a client contacts the firm, the attorneys will meet with them initially to find out what the client’s “picture” looks like – what their family situation is like, what their assets are like, and what their goals are.
“We, as attorneys, regularly have discussions amongst ourselves about the plan we’re proposing, what options someone else might see that we might not have initially seen when we sat down with the client, etc.,” said Nunes. “The clients really get the benefit of not just the attorney they’re technically engaging with, but of our collective intelligence, and that’s really great for the clients.”
Nunes, as well as the rest of the Surprenant & Beneski team, strongly encourages a collaborative approach with all of the professionals with whom the client works.
“For example, when a client comes to us for estate planning, there’s usually some financial planning that needs to happen, and their financial planner needs to be brought into the loop, or maybe their accountant,” Nunes said. “We will regularly reach out to those folks to talk to them about the plan, so if their expertise tells them to raise the red flag on a proposed plan, or they find something that might not work because of the types of assets we are working with, then we have the ability to work around that early on, rather than try to fix something on the back end. It’s all about trying to help clients reach their goals. The best way we can do that is to be open and collaborative about what recommendations we have.”
It gives peace of mind to the client to know that all their professional advisors are all on the same page in regard to the plan. To have everyone collectively working together to do what’s best for the client is confidence-building and encouraging for the client.
Nunes advises people as young as 18 to begin thinking about their future by consulting with an attorney. “Honestly, you may not need sophisticated planning at that stage in your life but, if you’re in an accident or you’re injured in some way, no one gets to automatically take care of you. You’re an adult. At a minimum, a power of attorney, a healthcare proxy, a HIPAA authorization – those documents are important as soon as you are of legal age.”
Additionally, clients should pull the team into the conversation if they’re getting married or divorced, if someone is ill, if someone passes away, or if they’re approaching retirement – these are all major situations for you and for those around you and can affect your plan.
With so much misinformation out there, Nunes considers it very important to educate the public. “They need to know what the rules are and where they may find themselves at risk,” Nunes said.
The attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. offer on their website a number of educational videos and webinars under Resources that cover a wide range of important topics.
If you have estate planning or elder law questions, or if you’d like more information, visit the Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., website at www.MyFamilyEstatePlanning.com.