We Know That Your Initial Call to Surprenant & Beneski Sets the Tone

That’s why we always follow the underlying principle that in our line of work, a deeply personal and attentive approach to new clients is essential. Upon your initial call, you will speak to our dedicated Client Service Team, led by our Client Service Manager, Fiorella. This team represents the many welcoming faces of our practice. 

Their primary role is to perform a comprehensive intake, ensuring that every client feels genuinely heard and understood. This team epitomizes our commitment to personal responsiveness and our immediate focus on current concerns while supporting you in planning for your long-term goals.

Their initial interaction ensures that even before your first appointment, our attorney will have a sense of your unique circumstances and individual needs and already be considering ways to create an estate plan distinctly suited to meet your goals.

Our scheduling is designed to accommodate clients’ work and family pressures. We know how important it is to work on estate planning when you are relaxed and your mind is clear. Moreover, while Fiorella and the client service team may be your first points of contact, our broader support team will also be at work behind the scenes. Each one has a firm commitment to guide, support, and deliver, making your estate planning journey as seamless as it is personalized.

Booking Your Consultation and Preparing for Your Meeting

We understand the importance of flexibility regarding scheduling which is why we offer myriad consultation options tailored to your needs: virtual meetings, phone calls, and in-person meetings at any of our three office locations: New Bedford, Easton, and Hyannis. 

Depending on your circumstances and preferences, our team members are also more than happy to meet you wherever you reside — in your house, apartment, condo, or co-op, at an independent or assisted living facility, or at a rehabilitation or nursing facility.

To make our interaction as productive as possible, we will provide you with a Consultation Prep Worksheet ahead of time. Once filled in, this document will help us understand the details of your finances, your family, your goals, and any circumstances unique to you and your loved ones. It will give us an edge when it comes to having a meaningful conversation with you and provide us with some lead time to round-table particular strategies that are suitable for customizing an estate plan just for you.

Meeting With Your Attorney

The information you provide will assist us in familiarizing ourselves with your circumstances so that our conversation will be effective and efficient, and so that we can prepare ourselves to bring well-thought-out suggestions to the table based on the information you provide. You may be surprised at how much we will be able to cover in our 90-minute session together because of our shared preparations. Our ability to cover ground efficiently will leave us time to answer your questions and address specific concerns that arise during our meeting.

The meeting itself will involve:

  • Reviewing your worksheet
  • Clarifying and fleshing out information provided
  • Obtaining additional information
  • Defining your goals
  • Explaining specific estate planning concepts and tools
  • Designing a customized estate plan and/or our recommendations to meet your unique needs
  • Providing you with a quote for our services

You will come away with an overview of a customized estate plan that takes into account all of your wishes and concerns and still has room for you to make other decisions and refine your choices.

The attorney you meet with will be an integral member of our estate planning team. Along with our Partners, Daniel M. Surprenant, Michelle D. Beneski, and Erin L. Nunes, our team includes attorneys Rebecca S. Spinner, Wendy W. Weston, and Cierra D. Storbeck. Each attorney is remarkable for their well-honed legal skills and thoughtful insight, as well as their continued education in the specialties of estate planning and elder law. The unique talents and experience of each give us collaborative strength when dealing with asset protection, taxation, Medicaid eligibility, military issues, non-English speaking clients, and the host of other estate planning matters that confront us on a daily basis.

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The Estate Planning Drafting Process

During the drafting process, your team will create the foundational documents of your estate plan, tailoring each to match your wishes.  

Central to any estate plan is the last will and testament, which states your wishes regarding property distribution, designates your personal representative (executor), and names the guardian of your minor children. For those aiming to shield assets from potential liabilities or estate taxes, creating a living trust may also be a critical part of the package. In addition, depending on the conclusions reached during our meeting, we may also draft other trusts with highly focused purposes, like a special needs trust for a family member with disabilities or a charitable trust to facilitate your support of a favorite cause or institution.

In drafting documents for you, it is also vital that we plan for the possibility of incapacity since no one knows when a serious injury, illness, or medical event may strike. In order to protect you and your family in case of such an eventuality, our estate planning attorney may draft the following documents:

  • Durable Power of Attorney in which you can authorize someone to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or otherwise unavailable.
  • Health Care Proxy in which you will appoint a trusted individual to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to do so yourself.
  • HIPAA Release in which you name the individuals you want to have access to your medical records, ensuring they will be able to make informed decisions about your healthcare. This gives proper access to support you with insurance claims, communicating with pharmacies, etc..
  • Advance Directive (Living Will) in which you can state your wishes concerning which life-sustaining treatments you want to receive if you become critically ill and unable to communicate.

These documents will ensure that even if you become incapacitated your stated wishes will be followed and your loved ones will remain able to make necessary decisions about your medical care, have access to financial resources, and be able to sign essential papers on your behalf. Notably, it will also keep close family members from experiencing the stress inherent in trying to determine which course of action to take.

Reviewing Your Estate Plan

Reviewing your drafted plan is critical in making sure that your estate plan aligns completely with your goals and expectations. Your Surprenant & Beneski attorney will carefully go over each document with you to show you that:

  • Your stated intent is absolutely clear
  • Each document is in keeping with up-to-date Massachusetts law
  • Every available financial tool and estate planning strategy is used effectively to reach your goals
  • Any questions you have are answered to your satisfaction
  • Any new concerns you have are discussed and addressed
  • Any and all necessary changes are made to your documents

Our goal is to provide you with the peace of mind that comes from protecting yourself, your family, your assets, and your legacy.

The Signing Meeting: Cause for Celebration!

Though we realize that your estate plan may require tweaking in the future, there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment at the signing meeting. Most of our clients are relieved to have met a significant milestone by preparing for the future with a well-crafted estate plan. 

Once your estate plan documents have been drafted and reviewed, it is time to formalize them through the signing process. Verifying that your estate plan is complete and accurate is satisfying, as is putting your signature on such important documents. The only item you have to bring to the signing is your current ID.

Funding Your Trust(s) - IMPORTANT!

A trust is a financial container, holding property for one or more beneficiaries. As its nominal owner, the trust must be funded with the assets it will hold. These assets may be bank accounts, stocks, bonds, or real estate property. In order for a trust to function properly and be an effective estate planning tool, it must be adequately funded. Without proper funding, even the most meticulously drafted trust is rendered ineffective.

As noted, different types of trusts serve a range of purposes. Revocable living trusts, for example, can help avoid the time-consuming and costly probate process. Irrevocable trusts, on the other hand, may be used to protect assets from potential creditors or reduce estate taxes. By properly funding these trusts, you ensure they will perform as intended, ultimately saving you significant amounts of money.

While some law practices and online software services tout their ability to assist you in creating a trust, they often fall short in terms of facilitating funding. This crucial step requires precision, attention to detail, and an understanding of the Massachusetts legal landscape. 

Be sure that you understand the next steps to funding your trust(s). If you are concerned about the accuracy and complexity of proper funding, Surprenant & Beneski does offer an additional service to guide you through the funding process. With our team’s help, you can be confident in navigating the intricate process of trust-funding.

When Should You Consider Modifying Your Estate Plan?

Because life is dynamic, your estate plan must be reviewed carefully on a regular basis. Not only do your personal circumstances change; as you age and grow, your perspective may alter as well. Although we will be meticulous in creating your initial estate plan, we recommend reviewing it with care before signing any documents, and at least every 3 years subsequently to accommodate potential changes in your circumstances, alterations in tax, trusts, and inheritance laws, and asset value fluctuations. 

Your estate plan should also be reviewed when there is a major change in your life, such as marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, the death of a beneficiary, or a major change in income. Situational changes may also make it imperative that you add or remove a beneficiary, guardian, trustee, or personal representative.

Why Surprenant & Beneski Is the Wise Choice in Estate Planning

Our legal team has the experience and advanced skills necessary to prepare your estate plan carefully and completely, customizing it to your unique specifications. We pride ourselves on developing relationships with our clients based on mutual trust and respect, knowing that such relationships help us gain insight into their needs and personal preferences.

As soon as you speak to our client service representatives, you will know you have come to the right place since they never fail to convey a welcoming, comfortable presence. Our team will be at your side and at your service throughout the estate planning process, explaining how best to prepare for your initial meeting, reassuring you about the confidentiality of our conversation, answering all your questions about legal terminology and estate planning tools, and keeping you fully informed about every step in the process. Thank you for considering us for the critical task of estate planning. We value the trust you place in us.