Many living trust scams are aimed at seniors in an attempt to scare the victims into unnecessary trusts that are worthless. Seniors need to be aware of the scams and how to identify them.
Going through probate can reduce the total value of an estate but it often is not necessary to avoid probate or to find ways to circumvent it because many estates, being small and not complicated, easily go through without problems.
Estates valued at less than $5.45 million are not subject to the estate tax, which is the overwhelming majority of estates in the U.S. Despite these facts many so-called living trust companies try to scare seniors into purchasing their products.
These companies pressure seniors by inflating the horrors of probate and the estate tax. Seniors who purchase these products often find out later that they are worthless and do not perform as claimed.
Recently, Business in Savannah offered some advice to seniors about avoiding these scams in "Seniors vulnerable to scams on trusts."
The advice includes:
- If you do not understand the terminology of a document, do not sign it.
- Pressure tactics such as limited-time offers and numerous phone calls are a sign of a scam.
- If a living trust company tells you that it is affiliated with a national organization, verify the affiliation independently.
- If you do sign something and have second thoughts, by law you have three days to cancel a living trust deal if you purchased it outside of the company's regular business office.
Concerned seniors can work with an estate planning attorney to gain more knowledge of probate.