Carolina Family Estate Planning is a reflection of our own family’s personal values and beliefs. We do our best work when we act congruently with who we are. We are comfortable saying that we are not the firm for everyone. Below are our answers to the sample questions provided in the 6-step process for choosing an estate planning attorney.
How long has Carolina Family Estate Planning been handling exclusively estate planning and elder law matters?
Carolina Family Estate Planning was founded in 2009 and during its entire tenure has been dedicated exclusively to estate planning and elder law related matters. Founding attorney, Jackie Bedard, has been practicing law since 2006 in the fields of estate planning and elder law, Attorney Kellie Corbett has been practice law since 2016 exclusively in the field of estate planning and elder law, and Managing Attorney Robert Seidel has been practicing law since 1986 with more than 28 years devoted to estate planning and elder law with additional background in business law and litigation.
Our office works as a team. Files are reviewed and discussed at regular team meetings and legal team meetings. Our plans also go through a multi-attorney review and proofreading review before your Signing Meeting.
Are estate planning and elder law exclusively what Carolina Family Estate Planning practices?
Yes. Our practice is dedicated to estate planning and elder law matters including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, veterans’ benefits planning, special needs planning, business succession planning, asset protection planning, and probate, trust and estate administration. We think that’s enough to stay on top of without trying to be a jack of all trades.
What is the educational background of the Carolina Family Estate Planning team?
Founding Attorney Jackie Bedard earned her Bachelor of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated magna cum laude from University of Richmond School of Law.
Managing Attorney Robert Seidel earned his Bachelor of Arts from St. Norbert College and is a graduate of the Hamline University School of Law.
Attorney Kellie Corbett earned her Bachelor of Arts from University of South Carolina and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law.
What affiliations, designations, and awards does Carolina Family Estate Planning have related to estate planning and elder law?
Jackie has been named as a Rising Star by North Carolina SuperLawyers for 2016, 2017, and 2018 (“Rising Star” denotes attorneys who are under the age of 40). Founding Attorney Jackie Bedard has earned a perfect 10.0 score on Avvo.com in the practice areas of both estate planning and elder law. She also earned a peer review of a perfect 5.0 on Martindale.com.
Jackie was also named “Best Attorney” by popular vote in Cary Magazine’s Maggy Awards in 2017 and 2019 (and was a very close runner up in 2018). Jackie was also named “Best Attorney” by popular vote in The Cary News in 2017 (as far as we’re aware, 2017 was the last year that The Cary News conducted this contest). [Also, to clarify, these contests generally require use of a specific attorney’s name rather than the law firm name. Thus, we have asked all past clients that have had a great experience with Carolina Family Estate Planning to use Jackie’s name for voting purposes so that we’re not splitting the vote between all of our fabulous attorneys.]
Jackie has served on the boards of the North Carolina Chapter of the National Academy for Elder Law Attorneys, Transitions Guiding Lights, the foundation for Transitions LifeCare, and the National Alliance of Attorneys for Alzheimer’s Planning. Jackie is also a former council member of the Elder Law and Special Needs section of the North Carolina Bar Association.
Carolina Family Estate Planning and/or its attorneys are members of WealthCounsel and ElderCounsel and Leading Lawyers on Planning and Protecting (national organizations dedicated to excellence in estate planning and elder law), the estate planning section of the North Carolina Bar Association, the elder law and special needs section of the North Carolina Bar Association, and the both the North Carolina chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Does Carolina Family Estate Planning carry malpractice insurance? Has the firm ever had to file a claim?
Yes! And we have not had to file a claim.
Have any of the lawyers in the firm ever been disciplined by the state bar?
What is Carolina Family Estate Planning’s process?
We have invested thousands of hours of time and energy into developing and refining our proven Vision Method process in order to provide you with excellent legal services and excellent client service, which is outlined here.
Do you offer any sort of guarantee?
Yes. We are not permitted to guarantee a specific legal outcome. However, our guarantee follows: We promise you will receive competent legal services, to the best of our abilities. At any time between now and 60 days after your Signing Meeting, you are not completely satisfied with our services, we ask that you, 1) please tell us immediately, and 2) give us an opportunity to make it right. If we cannot make it right, we will refund 100% of your fee.
Has Carolina Family Estate Planning published any articles, guides, or books for consumers or other attorneys?
Please visit resources.carolinafep.com for books, resources, and guides, including:
- Estate Planning Pitfalls: The 12 Most Common Threats to Your Estate & Your Family’s Future
- Supercharge Your IRA
- Here’s the Plan: How to Tell Loved Ones What You’d Like to Happen
- The Children’s Safeguard Planning Guide
- Hope for Caregivers
- Understanding Estate Administration
- The Ultimate Guide to Paying for Nursing Home Care in North Carolina
- The Ultimate Guide to Understanding the VA Aid & Attendance Program
- Legal Planning for Children and Young Adults with Special Needs
Does Carolina Family Estate Planning have support staff to assist you?
Yes. In order to best assist you, we have a superstar team of attorneys, paralegals, client relationship managers, client welcome specialists, client service specialists, and a client concierge, plus operations support such as our Executive Director, bookkeeper, and more.
What is Carolina Family Estate Planning’s hiring and vetting process for support staff?
All members of our team have gone through a multi-round interview and vetting process. We then do a reference check and we hire a third-party company to run a criminal background check. For legal hires, we also run an education background check to verify degrees and licenses.
What is Carolina Family Estate Planning’s communication policy (e.g., phone and email)?
Excerpted from Forward: the CFEP Client Handbook…
We work as a team: When you have a question, you may discuss your question with any one of our team members. Please keep in mind that it is often necessary—even for attorneys—to do some research before providing an answer. Our team members are instructed to ask for additional specific information to address your questions. Please share this information with team members so that they can help you. Conversations with every one of our team members are covered under attorney-client confidentiality.
To handle surges in call volume, we rely on a live remote receptionist service. The receptionist service is an extension of our team and is likewise covered by our confidentiality policy. You may provide them with detailed messages to relay to our on-site team. Please keep in mind, however, that they do not have access to client records, and so are limited in the amount of detailed information they can provide immediately.
- Meeting and Call Policy: To serve our clients and use everyone’s time effectively, calls with attorneys and paralegals must be arranged ahead of time. In addition to preventing a lengthy game of phone tag, scheduling calls and meetings ensures that attorneys and paralegals will be prepared for the appointment and will be able to give you and your legal matter their complete attention during your appointment.
- Email Policy: Please send all emails to the special concierge email address you have been provided. This is an email account that is monitored by our client services team on a regular basis, ensuring that your message does not get “lost” when a team member is out of the office.
We always prioritize client matters by legal need and impending deadlines. As a result, team members cannot always respond to email communications immediately. If you need to speak with someone immediately due to an emergency, please call our office.
How does Carolina Family Estate Planning help you keep your planning up to date? Does the law firm have a clear method for staying in touch with past clients?
All of our clients continue to receive our print and email newsletters to help keep them updated on major law changes that may impact a majority of our clients, upcoming events and more. Our firm periodically hosts update seminars for past clients regarding changes that may impact their planning. Membership in our VIP Inner Circle is also available by invitation only for clients needing more ongoing assistance with keeping their plans up to date.
If you would like to know more about our firm, I invite you to call us at 919-443-3035, contact us online, or sign up for one of our free seminars. We believe being transparent and open with prospective clients results in better relationships and higher long-term satisfaction. If we're a good fit, we look forward to working together!