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Avoiding Living Trust Scams

In my Los Angeles, California neighborhood, I often see flyers and ads for cheap living trust seminars. As an estate planning attorney who drafts living trusts and charges considerably more for those services, I am suspicious of what these seminars really offer.

I attended a seminar once. The speaker was not an attorney and I got the impression you never get to meet with one even after signing up for the service. I assume non-lawyers draft the documents contrary to state law prohibiting the practice of law without a license. I’m told that an attorney will “review” the documents before you sign them. I wonder if that happens.

Often, those seminars seem to be designed to lure seniors in with a promise of bargain-rate estate planning. You may be offered a low-cost trust, but it’s just a pretext for getting you to reveal confidential financial information about your assets. These document “mills” then send other “professionals” like insurance sales agents to your home to follow up with offers of annuities and other financial products that may mean disaster for those who buy them.

Common sense is often enough to avoid these scams:

  • Don’t work with estate planners who aren’t licensed to practice law.
  • Be suspicious of any living trust that’s marketed at an extremely low-price.
  • Don’t work with anyone who uses high pressure sales tactics.
  • Don’t buy a financial product that you don’t understand.
  • Use a trusted source for information geared toward legal services like estate planning designed for the everyday consumer.

To speak with an experienced estate planning attorney about these topics, call Mitchell A. Port.

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