Michelle Beneski | New Bedford Estate Lawyer

Michelle Diane Michelle Lawyer

Michelle Diane Beneski

Estate, Elder Law, Nursing Home, Power of Attorney




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Please include all relevant details from your case including where, when, and who it involves. Case details that can effectively describe the legal situation while also staying concise generally receive the best responses from lawyers.

Michelle is a compassionate professional who provides peace of mind to her clients. She is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation which means she is uniquely qualified to serve the interests of older, maturing populations by having met comprehensive and strict requirements. Michelle is one of only 24 CELAs in the state of Massachusetts. To learn more about this special designation, please visit www.nelf.org. Michelle is also licensed in the state of Connecticut.
Please describe a case in the last year or two where you made a big difference.

My client was a 78-year old single woman who was caring for her 101-year old mother at home. The care was harming the daughter’s health. For that reason, she had decided she needed to place her mother in a skilled nursing home. She was very emotional. She felt guilty and overwhelmed. Daughter didn’t have anyone to assist her. She had no idea how to find a nursing home for mom. The house they were living in was owned by daughter and mother together. Daughter was afraid she was going to lose her home to the nursing home. Daughter and Mother’s finances were mixed up with each other and had been for years. This made it difficult to know exactly what Mother owned and what Daughter owned. It was clear that qualifying Mother for MassHealth benefits was going to be extremely difficult. Nursing homes are reluctant to admit a person who may not be approved for MassHealth. They fear being stuck with a large unpaid bill. We were able to assist Daughter to find a nursing home bed for mother at a facility she wanted. We were able to reassure Daughter that her home would not be lost to pay for Mother’s nursing home care. This was a tremendous relief for Daughter. Daughter’s financial records were unorganized. She was overwhelmed trying to get together the documents needed to prepare the MassHealth application. We went to the Daughter’s home several times to gather the financial records and thereby relieve some of that overwhelm. Looking at the records without any context, it appeared that Mother had gifted thousands of dollars to Daughter. If true, this would mean that Mother would not be approved for MassHealth for many months, perhaps a year. We applied for MassHealth. If Mother was not approved, Daughter would have to private pay from her own funds for Mother’s care until any penalty period was over. Daughter was elderly, low income with only a small amount of savings. If Daughter had to private pay for Mother’s care her own financial future would be jeopardized. We did two things. We negotiated with the nursing home for the nursing home to allow Daughter to pay for Mother’s care at the MassHealth rate if Mother was not approved for MassHealth. This significantly reduced the amount Daughter would have to pay if MassHealth was not approved. The agreement gave Daughter some peace of mind as we worked toward MassHealth approval. At the same time, we advocated on Daughter’s behalf to MassHealth that Daughter had not taken Mother’s money. We argued that Mother had not gifted money to Daughter. The combined finances were a matter of convenience. Mother had retired on limited social security in the mid -1980s. Daughter worked at low income jobs until about 2008. They combined their resources to care for the home and in case something happened to one the other would receive the funds directly through joint accounts. We argued to MassHealth that the money in the accounts had to be Daughter’s as Mother had no ability to contribute to the accounts. Mother’s household expenses would not have been enough to pay all of her bills. Thus, any savings in those accounts had to have been Daughter’s. We were initially denied, a year-long penalty period was imposed. We appealed. We went to a Fair Hearing and won. Mother was approved for MassHealth back to the date she entered the nursing home. Daughter didn’t have to pay for Mother’s nursing home care at either the lower MassHealth rate or the private pay rate. She was able to keep her savings. This gives her financial stability. It was a long, emotional process. I believe without our assistance Daughter would never have been able to submit a complete MassHealth package. Without our assistance Daughter would have had to use all of her savings to pay for her Mother’s care. Daughter might have chosen to keep Mother at home rather than face these consequences, jeopardizing her own health. We were able to get Daughter the relief she needed, get Mother care at a good facility and save Daughter’s savings. This gave Daughter stability going into her late elderly years. We provided Daughter with emotional support and peace of mind during the entire process. Mother lived in the nursing home until she was 106!

How did you build a successful practice?

I built a successful practice by focusing on providing exemplary custom service. I provided that exemplary customer service by bringing together an amazing team of professionals who are legally talented, empathetic, caring, patient and hard working. I invested in myself and my team to make sure we had the hard and soft skills necessary to give such service. I and my team got to know our clients and the greater senior community by volunteering for various causes, committees and activities. This allowed us to get to know needs of the seniors in our community, the resources of the community, develop relationships with people who can help our clients and give back in a meaningful way to causes that are important to us and our clients. All of that makes us more successful.

What should clients look for in a lawyer?

What should clients look for in a lawyer? Does the lawyer have: • documented expertise – such as bar recognized indications of expertise; • years of experience; • a specialist is usually better than a general Practitioner; • reputation in the community; • reviews from prior clients; • the lawyer has a team of professionals working with the lawyer to assist the client so that the client is not reliant solely on the attorney; • the attorney and the team members are compassionate, empathetic, and patient; • the attorney can explain complex problems in a manner that a non-lawyer understands;

How important is local knowledge to the success of your cases?

Local knowledge can be very useful to achieving the client’s goals because of our pre-existing relationships in the community. Our knowledge of the local senior service community allows us to help clients get assistance from local programs and service providers to solve a variety of problems. Often the clients didn’t know these programs or services existed.

What information can you provide in a free phone consultation?

I can answer general questions about avoiding probate, the probate process, guardianship and conservatorship process, Medicaid qualification, lookback periods, the purpose and necessity of foundational estate planning documents, estate taxes, planning for a disabled child, trusts. If the caller provides me with a list of his/her/their assets, type of asset, approximate value, how the asset is owned, and a description of the caller’s family/close relationships, I can often provide specific answers for that caller’s situation.

What information do you need in a free phone consultation?

I need general description of why the caller is calling and what the client hopes to accomplish. I need a general list of the client’s assets – type of asset, approximate value and how the asset is owned. This is especially important if the caller has questions about Medicaid qualification, probate or estate taxes. I need a description of the caller’s family/close relationships.

What differentiates you from other lawyers in your community?

I think it is our client focus and team approach. Most attorney’s in our community are sole practitioners. Many do not have the time and resources to provide clients with more than documents. At our firm we focus on developing a relationship with the clients so that we can put them in the best position to deal with future situations. Our strong team allows us to do that. Our whole team is available to assist and go the extra mile. For example, we have gone to the bank with clients who need assistance funding a trust. We have gone to a client’s home to help gather records for a MassHealth application. Also, our free three-year review meetings mean we meet with our clients regularly and follow them as their life changes. This allows us to know them better. We are in a better position to assist them when needed.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I really enjoy helping my clients by relieving their stress, making a really difficult situation easier. It can be by simply listening, passing on referrals and guidance. It can be figuring out a technically difficult problem to come up with a solution that works for them.

What are your other interests in addition to law?

I like to garden. I have all perennial flowers. I am passionate about my family genealogy. I have traced and substantiated my ancestors on both sides of my family back to the early 1600s. I have self-published a history of my Poyant ancestors in France back 7 generations.

Are you involved in your community?

I am President of the Board for Coastline Elderly Services. This gives me an opportunity to shape the organization that provides services to many senior’s in our local community. I also volunteer to do free consultations at a local senior center.

Position Organization Location Duration
Managing PartnerSurprenant & Beneski, P.C.New Bedford, MAPresent
School Degree Major Graduation
Pepperdine University School of LawJ.D. Law School1990  
University of Florida, College of Law, Graduate Tax ProgramLL.M.Taxation1991
State / Court Date
  • Member of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Wealth Counsel, Massachusetts Forum of Estate Planning Attorneys
    Serves on the Advisory Board for Coastline Elderly Services, Inc.
    Previously served on the Board of Directors for Coastline Elderly Services, Inc.
    Adjunct Professor at Suffolk Law School | 2018
  • Recipient of the Community Nurse Women’s Star Power Award | 2019
    Named to Thompson Reuters / Boston Magazine’s Super Lawyer® list | 2012 - 2013 | 2017 - 2019
    Recognized on Top Women Lawyers list by Thomas Reuters / Boston Magazine | 2018 - 2019
    Firm recognized with Hope Award from Southcoast Healthcare VNA | 2018
  • Testimonial
    “We were terrifically impressed with Michelle Beneski for her knowledge, her sincere interest in our goals and the respect she showed us, even though we aren’t wealthy! We are grateful to Surprenant & Beneski for laying the groundwork with us for an estate plan and look forward to a long relationship with them.” (M. MacInnis, 2/19)

  • Guide to Retirement & Beyond | Medicaid Planning | 2018
    Newsletter for Professionals | The Elder Law Advocate | 2011
    Self Published | Elder Care Guide for SE Mass, Cape Cod and Surrounding Areas | 2010
    Self Published | The Consumer's Guide to Medicaid Planning | 2010
    Self Published | The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Veteran's Aid & Attendance Benefits | 2010
    Self Published | The Alzheimer's Legal Survival Guide | 2010
    Self Published | The Family Wealth Report | 2010
    Representing Clients in a New Legal Landscape | Planning for a Single Person in Crisis Mode | 2008
    Consumer CD on IRA Inheritance Trusts | IRA Inheritance Trusts | 2007
    Monthly Newsletter | Elder Law Today
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Michelle Diane Beneski has been a Premium Member since August 09, 2021.
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Verified Credentials Date Verified
(2003) Licensed as Attorney in Massachusetts. Verified with The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.August 10, 2021

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MA State Lawyer Additional Information: Professional Liability Insurance: Covered

Fee: Call today to learn more about my fee structure.

Service Type: Private

Language: English

Update Date: 2018-07-18

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Michelle Diane Beneski
35 Arnold Street
New Bedford, MA 02740


35 Arnold Street
New Bedford, MA 02740

Other Locations:
  • Easton
    45 Bristol Drive
    Easton, MA 02375

    336 South Street
    Hyannis, MA 02601



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