Almost everyone recognizes that estate planning is a matter of practical necessity. While everyone has their own strategy, living trusts are a common and time-tested way to preserve estate assets without the need for probate.
However, some unscrupulous companies try to take advantage of people, often seniors, by offering a low-cost living trust in an effort to sell something else: other financial services. These trust mills advertise inexpensive living trust packages, and then once they have the financial information of the senior client, they try to sell other products such as reverse mortgages, life insurance, and annuities. Most often, the trusts aren’t even drafted by a real attorney. That’s why it’s important to hire an honest, experienced trust attorney for your estate planning needs.
The Benefits of Living Trusts
A revocable living trust is a special legal entity that can own, manage, and invest assets. Living trusts are popular and powerful estate planning tools. They can help grantors:
- Control estate assets
- Condition inheritances
- Shield assets from creditors
- Avoid time-consuming probate formalities
- Preserve a family’s privacy
Estate planning attorneys often recommend revocable living trusts to clients who have complex estates or who wish to keep their estate assets outside the purview of a probate court. Every state has its own laws governing and restricting the use of trusts. California, for instance, requires that revocable living trusts meet certain standards, both in their formation and administration.
However, living trust mills have tried to capitalize on the popularity of revocable living trusts, often while selling expensive and unnecessary secondary products.
The Risks of California Living Trust Mills
Living trust mills connect with prospective clients through the mail, at church, and in assisted living centers. Salespeople often employ underhanded tactics to find an audience: they may promise a free estate planning seminar, offer a complimentary lunch, or mail free informational materials to prospective customers. If you have been contacted by a company promising an “easy trust” or “free estate planning advice,” it’s important to watch out for warning signs of a scam.
Warning Signs of a California Living Trust Mill Scam
- Reliance on “mailer cards” and other cold-calling-type strategies
- Informational meetings that include a free meal or other obvious incentives
- Non-attorney agents who position themselves as estate planning “experts”
- Trust “specialists” who sell other services, including insurance sales, mortgage financing, and general tax help
Each of these strategies is designed to lure potential clients into a face-to-face meeting.
When clients arrive for their free seminar, they are almost always greeted by people who call themselves “trust experts” or “estate planning specialists,” yet who have no legitimate legal background.
Often, trust mill agents intentionally target senior citizens, collecting their financial information and pressuring them into re-investing their retirement assets.
The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. for Your Estate Planning Needs
If you need to create an estate plan, update your current plan, create a trust, or handle the estate of someone who’s died, The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. is here to help. We only handle estate planning and post-death administration, and together, our attorneys have more than 70 years of combined experience in these fields.
Our law firm has helped over 25,000 people in California leave a lasting legacy to their loved ones, getting to know each client, listening to their concerns, and learning about their needs and goals to create a plan that carries out their wishes. Additionally, we’ve implemented 4,000 plans after clients have passed away. Let us take care of you throughout the estate planning process. Contact The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc., or call us at 1-800-756-5596.