By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
REGION – Learning about power of attorney, trusts, wills and health directives does not need to be overwhelming. The legal staff of Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. emphasize the importance and value of early estate planning. They are committed to educating you and facilitating the process so informed decisions are made for you and your family based on your individual goals.
The family-oriented firm was founded in 1965 and the current managing partners are siblings Daniel Surprenant and Michelle Beneski. Both are Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation. There are only 24 practicing in Massachusetts. The firm has grown with an expanded staff and locations in New Bedford, Easton, and Hyannis.
Do not procrastinate estate planning
Surprenant & Beneski Director of Community Relations Christa Silvieus said a common misconception is that estate planning is only for the wealthy or aging or when you die.
“There are several aspects of it that support you and your loved ones while you are living,” she said. “Our attorneys are very good at explaining things and helping people understand how the law can impact different situations and help them to avoid potential consequences.”
Appointments can be made for a free, 90-minute consultation with one of the attorneys. Based on individual family circumstances and financial goals, education and solutions will be provided so you can make an educated decision that is a good fit for you and your family.
“What works for your neighbor, your sibling, or your coworker as far as estate planning, might not be the right solution for you, based on your goals,” said Silvieus. “There’s a lot of misconceptions out there and it is worth it to take time to be educated. The pandemic has taught us that this is not something you want to procrastinate about.”
She said the pandemic experience has made people of all ages more cognizant of how quickly someone can become incapacitated. It has shown how important it is to have legal documents in place to identify the person who can make decisions on your behalf if needed. This can be someone to manage your finances, make health care decisions, or to access personal information, such as talking to your pharmacist or insurance company.
Additionally, having an advance directive (also known as a living will) gives loved ones and health care providers a clear direction as to how you would want to be cared for during an incapacitated or end of life circumstance.
Silvieus said this is particularly important for people who have large families.
“Two siblings may think they know what mom wants, and have very different opinions,” she said. “If documented, she can identify how she wants to be cared for in different situations and circumstances, so the family has a guide how to make decisions in those situations.”
The firm encourages adult children taking care of an aging parent to contact them sooner rather than later, so they are not coming in during crisis mode.
Planning now can lower costs later
A Last Will and Testament directs your assets to the appropriate people in your life. If there is no will, there is no access to anything that a spouse or parent owned individually until it goes through the probate process.
“This can be a costly, time intensive, overwhelming and frustrating process without the proper documentation,” said Silvieus. “It doesn’t avoid probate, but it does improve the facilitation of the process.”
Review plan to account for life transitions
Silvieus said it is valuable to review the estate plan. The firm offers clients a free, three-year review of their plan to assess if it continues to fit their current situation. Marriages, divorce, new grandchildren, or a health diagnosis may necessitate plan updates.
Call 508-994-5200 or view https://myfamilyestateplanning.com/ for more information.