< Back

Melissa K. Burnett-Testa



Northeastern University, School of Law, J.D.
University of Rochester, B.A.

Bar Admissions

Rhode Island
New York


Super Lawyers, 2015-2018

Professional & Community Involvement

Professional Advisory Council, Rhode Island Foundation, 2014
Estate Planning Council of Rhode Island
Rhode Island Bar Association, Probate & Trust Committee
Massachusetts Bar Association
Professional Advisory Council, Rhode Island Foundation, 2016, Council chair

More Information

In 2014, Melissa was appointed to serve on the Professional Advisory Council of the Rhode Island Foundation.

In 2012, Melissa was appointed to serve on the Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners by Rhode Island Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell.

On A More Personal Note

Melissa enjoys outdoor activities, including skiing and hiking, and spending time with her husband Anthony and their three daughters.

Download vCard

As a Partner with Howland Evangelista Kohlenberg Burnett LLP, Melissa works with clients to develop and implement estate plans that balance the clients’ goals and family circumstances with the objective of minimizing transfer taxes. She also advises clients with regard to retirement plan assets, real estate and lifetime gifting techniques.

Offering a high level of personal engagement, Melissa assists clients in preserving their family assets, achieving their philanthropic goals and providing a tax efficient plan for distribution of their assets. Melissa chairs the firm’s Drafting Committee, which is responsible for monitoring legislation and updating master documents, as appropriate.


  • Melissa assisted a client with respect to leveraged gifts of his business interests. With the use of two successful Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, the client was able to transfer over $4.3 million to a long-term trust for the benefit of his descendants at a cost of only $2 of his lifetime gift tax exemption.
  • Melissa drafted a Dynasty Trust (which can last indefinitely under Rhode Island law) to control the management and use of a small island for future generations.
  • Melissa regularly advises clients with respect to the selection of beneficiaries for retirement plans, considering the client’s desire for deferral of income taxes, reduction of estate taxes and management of plan assets. Where appropriate, she incorporates trusts that qualify as designated beneficiaries under IRS regulations.


  • Authored chapter on Estate Planning for Retirement Benefits for “A Practical Guide to Estate Planning in Rhode Island,” Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 2012.
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning Basics,” Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, 2011
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning Strategies for the Sale of a Family Business,” Oppenheimer, 2010