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How We Are Different

Explaining to you how we’re different requires, in part, an explanation of what the “traditional” experience with a lawyer is like. If you’ve worked with a lawyer to prepare estate planning documents for you in the past, this may sound familiar.

During the traditional experience, you’ll go in and meet with a lawyer who will often times make things seem very complicated and confusing. You’ll have a good idea that the lawyer is smart and seems to know what she’s doing, so you’ll nod and answer questions as if you understand everything.  Because you want to do the right thing for your family, you’ll have the lawyer prepare documents for you and you’ll sign the documents, feeling relieved that you’ve got that taken care of.

You’ll take your fancy planning binder home, stick it on a shelf or in a drawer, check estate planning off on your checklist as DONE and never think about it again. You might remember that your lawyer said something about moving your bank accounts into the trust. So, you’ll go to the bank, forget what you were supposed to do, call your lawyer’s office, get a voicemail, have to leave the bank and wait for a call back, (which takes several hours at least, sometimes days) and by that time, you’ll have gotten busy with other things and never get around to moving that bank account.

A few weeks later, you’ll get a bill in the mail for $67.50 for 15 minutes of your lawyer’s time for answering a couple of questions. You will make a mental note – don’t call lawyer ever again.

Several years later, you’ll refinance your house or sell it and buy a new one and forget that you were supposed to let your lawyer know or make sure you kept the title in the name of the trust. Your children will get older, making your guardianship choices outdated, but you don’t want to call your lawyer because you know you’ll get a bill in the mail two weeks later.

You’ll hear something about a change in the tax law, but you figure you’d surely get a letter in the mail from your lawyer if it was something that affected you, so you don’t worry about it.  Plus, you’d have to dig through boxes to find your trust documents so you could remember your lawyer’s name and find her contact information. Who has time for that?

It’s not until you become incapacitated or die and your family finds the binder that you stuck up on a shelf several years before and never looked at again, that they’ll realize your plan is so outdated that it has nothing to do with your life, your assets and the law. Your family is at a loss. They don’t know where to turn or what to do, so they contact the same lawyer that you used to prepare the documents, who is as happy as can be to probate your assets which never made it to the trust.

Why does this happen?

Unfortunately, the estate planning industry was not designed to serve young families who experience lots of change. It was not designed to serve seniors who become incapacitated and need long term care prior to death.  It seems to have been designed to serve 70 to 80 year olds who are only preparing for death. The traditional estate planning business model is to constantly seek out new clients, leaving little time to service already existing ones. We’re passionate about our work; We know how important it is to develop and implement a plan that takes care of you and your loved ones at all stages of your life.

Watch the video below where Michelle Beneski explains "How We Are Different"

Our Firm Helps You Prepare for Life

What makes our firm different is that we were built with the needs of families of all ages in mind.  We can help, whether you’re a…

  • parent providing for small children
  • business owner concerned about succession
  • senior or family member navigating MassHealth/Medicaid
  • senior of family member caring for someone who is slowing down and needing care
  • a practical person wanting to pass assets to loved ones without wasting time or money

We Make It Easy For You

We know first hand how busy working families can be, and that it can be a real struggle to put your own needs ahead of your children, your family, your clients and your customers. The reality is that if something like estate planning can be put off, it will, sometimes indefinitely.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve spoken with a new client who admits sheepishly, “Michelle, we're embarrassed to tell you this, but even though our kids are 5 and 7, we haven’t done any estate planning.”  Or “Dan, I knew my wife was getting sick but I didn’t realize how much was at stake by not planning. I should have done this years ago.”

Part of us wants to say, “It’s okay, you’re certainly not alone.” However, the fact of the matter is that planning early is important. No one knows when he or she will die or become ill and incapacitated. While it’s unlikely that something will happen to you prematurely, it’s possible, and if you don’t have a plan, or don’t have a plan that works for your needs, the effect of a premature death or illness could be absolutely disastrous.

You want to know you’ve made the best decisions for your family and that your plan will work when your loved ones need it most. You want to make sure your loved ones would be taken care of in the best way possible, that your wealth is protected and your loved ones will be prepared to receive your wealth if anything happens to you.  For these reasons, we do everything we can to make it as easy for you as possible.  Typically, we complete a plan in 2 to 3 meetings over the course of 4 to 8 weeks.  We offer complete trust funding services and offer a free plan review every three years so you can have total peace of mind, knowing that your plan will work when you need it.

We Do Everything on a Flat-Fee Basis

People like certainty in their lives.  They don’t like unexpected bills from lawyers.  For these reasons, we alleviate any unpleasant surprises by performing our work on a flat-fee basis.  We speak openly about our fees up front, before any work is done, and our clients work with us to choose their own plan and fees.

That’s right, they choose their own fees.

Our clients are a lot happier with this arrangement, and so are we.

We encourage communication with our clients.  In fact, we’ve thrown out the time clocks so you never have to be afraid to call with a quick question.  For longer meetings and more frequent reviews, we offer a maintenance plan if you choose.  Since we charge a flat-fee basis, agreed to in advance, there are never any surprises.

Your Estate Planning is About You, Not Me

It doesn’t matter how many clients we have served or how many degrees we have.  It doesn’t matter how much we know about esoteric tax planning or Medicaid strategies.  In the long run, we are not the ones who have to live with your plan … you are.

Some lawyers feel the need to impress their clients with how smart they are, or pressure them into one-size-fits-all plans.  Our job is to listen to you, really listen to you, and use our expertise to help you make the right decisions for you, your goals and your family.

We provide you with exceptional customer service.

We have a whole team in place to serve you. When you call our office to ask your quick questions, you won’t have to wait hours or days for a phone call back. You’ll get your question answered, right away.  If you need to schedule a more in-depth legal or strategic call with your attorney, a call will be scheduled when you’re both available and ready for the call so we can make the very best use of your time and not waste your time by leaving voicemail after voicemail back and forth.

We also ensure that the most important details of your planning are followed through on and that your plan continues to work throughout your lifetime.  Our Case Managers work with you to ensure that your assets are protected throughout your lifetime and none of your assets will end up going through a long, expensive court process or being lost to the state because they were missed after your death.

We’ve created unique membership programs to keep your plan up to date, year in and year out, as well as give you access to our Trusted Team of Legal Experts for guidance on ANY legal or financial matter.  One day you will need a lawyer. I don’t know why and I don’t know when, but when you do, you will be grateful you can call on us and we’ll be here to advise you or get you out of a jam.

Lastly, we believe your financial wealth is only about a quarter of your overall “Family Wealth,” which is made up of your far more valuable Intellectual, Spiritual and Human assets – who you are and what is important to you.

Most estate plans are only able to transfer your financial wealth onto the next generation.  The intangible nature of your much greater wealth has made it difficult to capture and it is most often lost when someone passes.  How much do you know about your grandparents values?  Their most prized personal possessions?  How they felt about you?  What they had learned during their lifetime?

If you are like most people, you know very little.  But, the wealthiest families capture these assets and pass them right along with their financial wealth...and that’s part of the reason the rich seem to keep getting richer.

We have developed a tool that helps you to pass on this intangible wealth right along with your whole family wealth, including your Intellectual, Spiritual and Human assets, if you so choose.  We can’t go into all of the detail here, but just ask about our Priceless Conversations when you come in to meet with us.

We look forward to seeing you and caring for your family soon!

Michelle Beneski & Dan Surprenant

P.S. If you think this sounds expensive, well, you're right and you’re wrong.  We can guarantee you that planning is substantially less costly than it would be for your family if you died with a plan that didn’t work, or if you didn’t have a plan in place at all.  Also, we’ve never had a single family who believed in this kind of planning and wanted to put it in place for their loved ones leave our office because they couldn’t afford it.  We’ve made creative financing available to our clients because we know that this planning is the foundation for a life of success!