Cona Elder Law Closes Office for a Day to Give Special Benefit to Staff and Spouses
On Friday, June 10th, Cona Elder Law, a Melville-based elder law and estate planning firm, will close their office and gather the staff and their spouses in the conference room to participate in “Staff Estate Planning Day.” The attorneys and paralegals will perform the same type of legal service for themselves as they normally do for their clients.
Three years ago, Cona Elder Law initiated a similar program. However, since that time, Jennifer Cona, managing partner, needed to update her parents’ Wills and estate planning documents as well as her own Will and realized that other attorneys and staff members likely had similar concerns. “I don’t want to be the shoemaker without shoes!” says Cona of her own family’s planning needs. Not only are there a number of new employees at the firm who have no estate plans, but there have been marriages, divorces, and new babies born, necessitating changes to existing Wills and Advance Directives.
As they do with clients, Cona Elder Law staff and their spouses completed questionnaires and submitted information for the preparation of advance directives (living wills, health care proxies and powers of attorney) and Last Will and Testaments for each other leading up to the event on June 10th where they will witness and notarize each other’s documents and attend each other’s formal Will signings. This unusual activity will be followed by a picnic at Sunken Meadow Park.
“This out-of-the-box ‘group benefit’ is great for morale because it shows our employees that we take care of our own as we do our clients,” says Jennifer Cona, managing partner, Cona Elder Law. “In addition, our staff has a better understanding of what clients go through when they deal with these difficult emotional decisions.”
Cona Elder Law is donating about $10,000 in staff time for the advance directives and wills to protect their employees and spouses for the future. The activity will also serve as a team-building exercise as they work collaboratively to help each other properly plan for themselves and their families.
Preparations for “Estate Planning Day” began in late April when a paralegal at Cona Elder Law met with the employees to explain the documents and give each person a checklist to complete. After determining the specific needs of each staff member and his or her spouse, the attorneys draft the wills and advance directives.
Chris Barcia, 40 year old paralegal, is planning to get a will for the first time. “Normally, I wouldn’t think that I needed a will as I’m single without children,” said Chris. “But when Cona Elder Law offered us this wonderful opportunity, I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and have my wishes memorialized. In case something unexpected happens to me, my family would know exactly how I want my assets distributed.”
Diana Ferranti, a 27 year old attorney, agrees that she’s lucky to work for a firm that regards the personal needs of their staff as highly as they do clients. “A living will and health care proxy are extremely important for everyone at any age as you never know what can happen,” explains Diana. “I wouldn’t want to be kept alive on life sustaining equipment except under certain very limited circumstances.”
Nancy Troetti, a paralegal in her 40’s and married with two children, is getting a new will and advance directives for her self and her husband. “Working for an elder law firm, I recognize the importance in specifying our directions and protecting our rights for the future,” explains Nancy. “I couldn’t pass up this wonderful offer.”
Along with helping employees on an individual basis, this benefit is also a valuable team building activity. Cona Elder Law believes in the importance of engaging employees in an educational experience while working toward a common goal. By helping each other, staffers develop rich internal bonds which lead to increased productivity and efficiency, ultimately benefiting clients.
Cona Elder Law is recognized as a leading elder law and estate planning firm on Long Island. The firm provides creative advocacy and cutting edge planning strategies and has been featured in many publications including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, L.I. Business News, Kiplinger’s, Reader's Digest and many others. Cona Elder Law attorneys are frequent contributors to Newsday’s Act II “Ask the Expert” column and have appeared as guests on WNBC-TV, CNN-fn, News 12, News 55, Channel 21 "Act II With Newsday" and many radio stations including WOR, WCBS AM and WFAN.