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Avoiding Estate Planning Scams

Younger man shaking hands with older coupleWhen it comes to estate planning, there’s definitely a great deal of confusion and misinformation. This is one of the bigger decisions you’ll make and you're getting it right is key to making sure that you leave your loved ones and your assets protected. One thing is clear, it’s important to make sure that you have a will or trust in place, regardless of your age.

These documents can help make your final wishes clear and will help protect your interests once you’re gone. In the event of an untimely death, you’ll want to make sure that your loved ones receive certain items or that you are able to provide the financial help a spouse, child, or other loved one might need after your passing. 

While it’s recommended that all adults have some type of plan in place, it’s also important to make sure that you know how to avoid some of the most common estate planning scams. There are individuals who seem intent on preying on seniors and other vulnerable adults. Even if you think that you would never fall for one of these scams, it’s important to know what to look out for and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Unfortunately, it’s often the elderly who are targeted by these scammers, especially if they have diminished cognitive abilities or don’t have close relatives to act as a second set of eyes for them. Scams targeting the elderly often revolve around having them sign a power of attorney, giving someone else control over their property, or it could be as straightforward as having the elderly sign their property over to someone who doesn’t have their best interest in mind.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

One of the most recent scams comes from what is referred to as “trust mills.” These establishments offer a one-size-fits-all solution by using scare tactics to push an expensive “living trust kit” on people. These cookie-cutter-solutions are not efficient, and in most instances will not hold up legally. Trusts and wills are complex legal documents that need to be customized to the individual with special care. We don’t recommend buying software, or prepackaged documents to fill out.

Avoiding Estate Planning Scams

Finding a reputable estate planning lawyer is really the only way to avoid getting scammed. We don’t recommend using the software, or prepackaged documents to plan your estate. Ask friends and family if they can refer an attorney to you that handled their will or trust.

If you can’t get a referral, use review sites like Yelp or Avvo to find an estate planning attorney with a high rating and a good reputation who will be able to properly advise you on these matters.