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Be Cautious of Trust Mills and Other Estate Planning Scams

 Posted on September 10, 2020 in Estate Planning Blog

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There is no question that every American adult should put some kind of estate plan in place to protect themselves in the event of the unexpected. Even a basic will could offer a level of direction and security for surviving family members and loved ones if a tragedy were to occur. Unfortunately, over half of all adults in the United States do not have any type of estate plan, including a simple will.

Many possible reasons exist as to why a person might not have an estate plan, but procrastination is certainly among the most common. Nearly everyone realizes that having an estate plan is probably better than not having one, but relatively few make estate planning a priority. Sadly, those who drag their feet often become the unknowing targets of scams run by individuals and entities looking to profit from the uncertainty and fears of those who are simply seeking the peace of mind that comes with having an estate plan.

Recognizing Trust Mills

There are many different types of estate planning scams to be aware of, and most of them are not immediately obvious. For example, you are not likely to be approached on the street by a shady-looking individual offering to set up a trust for you if you would just step over to his car. In fact, fully-licensed and qualified lawyers have been known to take advantage of estate administration and planning situations by offering unnecessary services so that they can collect more fees. Another common type of estate planning scam is a trust mill.

A trust mill is any entity—person, firm, or organization—that aggressively markets living trusts as an easy solution to estate planning. Trust mills generally utilize pushy, smooth-talking salespeople, in addition to email, print, and, in some cases, door-to-door marketing. The goal is usually to convince those who are particularly vulnerable—often the elderly—to buy DIY kits for creating a living trust so that they can protect against “government reach” and “money-grabbing probate attorneys.” In some cases, selling the kits is the primary goal, but in others, the objective is to collect information about the victims’ finances that could be used to promote other unnecessary products such as annuities and extraneous insurance policies.

Do Not Be Fooled

One of the most common tactics that trust mills use is implying a connection with or the endorsement of reputable organizations. For example, the marketing campaign may look like it has the approval of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), one of the leading senior advocacy groups in the nation. Trust mills also tend to rely on false claims and exaggerations about probate, estate taxes, inheritance taxes, and the power of the trusts they claim to offer.

A living trust can be an extremely valuable estate planning tool, and thousands of such trusts are established every year. However, a living trust is not a “one-size-fits-all” deal. In order to be effective, your trust must be customized to fit your specific circumstances and your family’s needs. Depending on the situation, a different type of trust or an entirely different estate planning tool might be more appropriate. With this in mind, you should always speak with a qualified estate planning attorney before you make any decisions about establishing a trust.

Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Attorney

Have you been approached by someone trying to sell you a DIY trust kit? Or maybe, you have received an ad in the mail for something similar. Either way, the best thing that you can do is to contact an experienced Lombard, IL trusts lawyer and discuss the situation. At A. Traub & Associates, we can help you identify a potential scam and provide the guidance you need in setting up an estate plan that meets your needs. Call us today at 630-426-0196 to schedule a confidential consultation.



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