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We Provide a Full Range of Estate Planning, Probate & Elder Law Services
It is important to seek qualified professional advice when considering any of these services so that they will withstand IRS scrutiny while accomplishing your objectives. If you are thinking about estate planning services, please contact us (877.585.1885 or email) to schedule a free no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys — or attend our free workshop — we will answer all your estate planning questions.
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COMPREHENSIVE WILL PLANS
(FOR INDIVIDUALS, MARRIED COUPLES AND DOMESTIC PARTNERS)
This plan includes:
- Wills (one for each person)
- Advance Health Care Directive (one for each person)
- Durable Power of Attorney (one for each person)
COMPREHENSIVE REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST ESTATE PLANS
(FOR INDIVIDUALS, MARRIED COUPLES AND DOMESTIC PARTNERS)
This plan includes:
- Declaration of Trust
- Certificate of Trustee Authority
- Wills (2)
- Advance Health Care Directive (2)
- Durable Powers of Attorney (2)
- Community Property Agreement
- Grant Deed
- Comprehensive Transfer Document
- Estate Organizer
- Detailed Instructions
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR FINANCIAL PURPOSES
This document allows you to designate an agent to manage your financial affairs should you become unable to manage them yourself.
ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES
This document allows you to designate an agent to manage your medical care should you become unable to manage it yourself.
ADVANCED ESTATE PLANNING
1. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust.
An irrevocable life insurance trust ("ILIT") is an irrevocable trust created for the principal purpose of owning life insurance policies. As with any other trust, the insurance trust is a contract between a grantor (creator) and a trustee to administer certain property, in this case an insurance contract, for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. The insurance trust, like other irrevocable trusts, cannot be rescinded, amended, or modified in any way after it is created. Once the grantor contributes property to the trust, they cannot later reclaim ownership of the property or change the terms of the trust. The principal reason for establishing a life insurance trust is estate tax planning. When an ILIT is properly structured, the death benefits paid to the trust will be free from inclusion in the gross estate of the insured. In addition, the ILIT may also be structured so that the trust provides benefits to the insured's surviving spouse without inclusion in the surviving spouse's gross estate.
2. Qualified Personal Residence Trust.
A Qualified Personal Residence Trust ("QPRT") provides the ability to remove one's personal residence or vacation home from their taxable estate, while continuing to use and enjoy it. The QPRT has the potential to save heirs significant Federal Estate Taxes. This trust may also protect a primary residence and/or vacation home against potential lawsuits and/or creditors.
3. Family Limited Partnership ("FLP")/ Limited Liability Company.
The Family Limited Partnership ("FLP") can achieve significant Federal Gift & Estate Tax savings by leveraging one's lifetime exemption (currently set at $5,250,000) and $14,000 per person annual Gift Tax exclusion. By using the technique known as "minority discounting" the IRS allows significant discounts in the gift/estate tax values of investment assets passing through an FLP. The FLP allows one to make continued annual gifts, while retaining control. It also provides proper succession management of real estate or other investment assets. Additionally, the FLP may provide asset protection. Depending on circumstances however, an LLC can be a better option than an FLP, especially if asset protection is your primary concern.
4. Charitable Remainder Trust.
A Charitable Remainder Trust ("CRT") is a planning vehicle that can be used to avoid the payment of Capital Gains Taxes upon the sale of appreciated property such as real estate, stocks and mutual funds. Transferring the assets to the CRT and selling them from the CRT allows one to receive a lifetime income payment, when properly structured.
5. Irrevocable Trust.
An irrevocable Trust can be an effective way to fund education or otherwise provide for the support of beneficiaries, while controlling and protecting the assets gifted. The Trust can be structured to receive ongoing annual gifts, tax-free.
6. Special Needs Trust.
If you have a family member with a disability who will not be completely independent as an adult, you will need to consider a Special Needs Trust to provide the resources to fund a lifetime of care. Preparing for their future is important because the alternative is total dependence on the government programs - which may or may not be available in the future.
7. Planning with Retirement Plan Assets/IRA Trust.
Beneficiary designations can create major tax and estate planning issues upon your death. Retirement plan assets (including IRAs other than Roth IRAs, pension and profit sharing plans, 401(k) plans, and non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements), are assets which have never been subjected to federal or state income taxes. These assets can be subject to estate tax on the participant's death (unless left to a spouse or charity), and will be subject to income tax when the assets are withdrawn from the plan by the beneficiary. The combined estate and income tax burden can be 75% of the plan assets! Where the plan assets are left to individuals other than a spouse, it is imperative to try to arrange for cash to be available to the beneficiaries from other sources so they are able to pay the estate taxes, while deferring the time for withdrawing the funds from the retirement plan. With proper planning though the use of an IRA Trust, the funds may well be withdrawn from the plan over the life expectancy of the beneficiary, which may be a significant period. In the interim, the funds that remain in the plan can continue to grow on a tax-deferred basis, so that even with withdrawals each year the total fund balance may increase for many years.
8. Crummey Trusts and Intentionally Defective Trusts.
A Crummey Trust is one where the beneficiary has the right to withdraw a certain amount from contributions made to the trust that year. If the beneficiary doesn't withdraw the permitted amount within a certain period of time (typically 30 - 40 days after the gift is made), then the beneficiary cannot demand withdrawal at a later date, and the assets remain in the trust and will be distributed at the times called for under the trust. It is also possible to create a Trust that is a "grantor trust" for income tax purposes. (This kind of trust is called "Intentionally Defective", but that means that it was designed to have the income taxed to the person who gave the assets to the trust.) By creating a Trust of this nature, one may, during their lifetime, be saddled with the income tax liability on the income earned by the Trust. This has the effect of further depleting your estate (which will be subject to estate tax on your death), and at the same time, increasing the assets in the Trust (which will not be subject to estate tax on the creator's death).
9. Generation Skipping Trusts ("Dynasty Trusts").
A trust may be set up to be fully distributed to the recipient during the recipient's lifetime. For example, it can be set up so that the assets are distributed in thirds, when the recipient reaches ages 30, 35 and 40. Alternatively, a trust can be set up so that the assets will continue in trust for the beneficiary's entire lifetime, and then pass on to the beneficiary's descendants. Such a "generation skipping trust" or "Dynasty Trust" can give the beneficiary the right to benefit from the assets, but provide two important benefits which an outright gift can't provide:
(a) The funds in the trust are exempt from the claims of most of the beneficiary's creditors; and
(b) The funds in the trust may avoid estate taxes when the beneficiary dies.
It is possible to set up a Dynasty Trust to be extremely flexible and to give the beneficiary a great deal of power and control, or to limit the rights and power of the beneficiary. Where a beneficiary is trustworthy and a savvy financial manager, the beneficiary may be granted rights as broad as the following:
- The right to all interest and dividends of the trust;
- The right to withdraw principal; and
- The right to determine who will inherit the assets of the trust when the beneficiary dies.
This power can be unlimited (so that the beneficiary can direct the funds in favor of anyone other than the beneficiary's estate, the beneficiary's creditors, or the creditors of the beneficiary's estate.) Alternatively, the power may be limited so that the funds can be distributed only to their descendants, or possibly the spouse of a descendant.
A Dynasty Trust also makes sense where you are trying to protect a child from himself or herself. For example, a Dynasty Trust is a viable option if a child has problems with spouses, creditors, or substance abuse, or is susceptible to manipulation by unscrupulous individuals or organizations, or is developmentally disabled, or is a "spendthrift" or bad money manager.
10. Grantor Retained Trusts.
There are various types of Grantor Retained Trusts ("GRITs", "GRATs", "GRUTs"). A GRIT is used when the remaining beneficiaries are not related to you; the other techniques are used when the remainder beneficiaries are related to you. All of these techniques "freeze" the value of the assets transferred to the Trust for gift and estate tax purposes (although a GRUT does so only to a limited extent), so future appreciation will inure to the benefit of the remainder beneficiaries; and also discount the value of the gift for gift tax purposes.
All of these techniques are based on the same idea: with a Grantor Retained Trust, one retains the right to benefit from an irrevocable trust for a fixed number of years, after which the trust assets are either distributed to other beneficiaries, or remain held in trust solely for other beneficiaries. A taxable gift (for gift tax purposes) is made when one transfers assets to the Trust; but because of the retained right to benefit from the Trust, the value of the gift (for gift tax purposes) received by the remainder beneficiaries is a fraction of the value of the assets transferred to the Trust. The percentage of the value of the assets transferred which constitutes the taxable gift will be based on the type of Grantor Retained Trust; the amount you will receive from the trust, interest rates in the economy when you transfer assets to the trust, and the length of time you will benefit from the Trust.
If you die while you are entitled to receive benefits from the Trust, then the entire value of the assets in the Trust will be taxed as part of your estate for estate tax purposes the benefits of having made a gift will be lost. Thus, it is not prudent to pick too long a term for the Trust, taking into account age and/or health considerations. In every Grantor Retained Trust, you are subject to income tax on some or all of the trust income, even if you don't receive it, at least while you benefit from the Trust (and sometimes thereafter.) In other words, a Grantor Retained Trust is a grantor trust for income tax purposes.
Grantor Retained Income Trust ("GRIT")
A GRIT may be used only where the remainder beneficiary is not related to you. Thus, a GRIT could be used to benefit a friend or a non-marital partner (for example, a member of a same-sex couple.) You would reserve the right to receive whatever ordinary income (generally, interest and dividends) is earned by the Trust. If the GRIT holds a home, you may reserve the right to live in the home for a period of years, including the right to repurchase the home from the trust before the trust ends.
Grantor Retained Annuity Trust ("GRAT") and Grantor Retained Unitrust ("GRUT").
These Trusts distribute proceeds to you each month. In the GRAT, this is a fixed percentage of the initial contribution and in the GRUT, this is a fixed percentage of the assets in the Trust each year.
This technique will work well for an asset that has a likelihood of appreciating in value, or for a partial interest in an asset where the value of the initial contribution is lowered using the partial interest discounts discussed above. It can be used where you want to leverage your lifetime exemption gift or get a large amount out of your estate using only a small portion of your exemption.
11. Installment Sales.
Another way of freezing the value of an asset for estate tax purposes is to sell the asset to a family member, or to a trust for family members, on the installment basis of income tax reporting. Generally, an income tax is payable on interest received on the note, as well as on any capital gains as principal payments are received. This could be combined with a discounting technique referred to above.
12. Sale to an Intentionally Defective Irrevocable Trust.
An appreciated asset can be "sold" to a trust which is treated as a grantor trust for income tax purposes, but which is treated as an irrevocable trust for gift and estate tax purposes (an Intentionally Defective Irrevocable Trust, or "IDIT".) Once more, this freezes (at current value) the value of the asset being sold.
Unlike a regular installment sale, one does not report gain for income tax purposes on the sale to the Trust. Such a sale defers gain on the sale until the asset is sold by the Trustee of the Trust to a third party, or until your death (whichever occurs first.) If the asset is sold during your lifetime, then you would pay (from personal assets) any capital gains tax generated such sale. As reflected above, the payment of income taxes probably is not treated as a gift for gift tax purposes. As a variant of this method, you could have the Trust borrow money from a third party (such as a bank), and pay the cash to you (removing the need for an installment note); but again you would not report taxable income on the sale until the asset is sold to a third party or until your death.
13. Self-Canceling Installment Notes (SCINs).
Another technique involves lending money to someone (such as a child), or selling an asset to someone, in exchange for a promissory note that provides for the payment of interest and principal over a specified term, but which also mandates that if you die before the note is repaid in full, the balance will be cancelled and forgiven. Because your child may benefit by not having to repay the balance if you die while the note is outstanding, your child must pay you either a higher rate of interest than would normally be required, or a bonus must be added to the principal amount of the note. The amount of the interest or principal bonus must be calculated by an actuary. The term of the note must be set so that it will be repaid during your actuarial life expectancy. The interest you receive is taxable as ordinary income. If you lend money to the other party, the principal repayments generally are tax free; but if you sell an asset to the other person, the principal repayments will be partially a return of your investment (basis) and partially capital gain.
14. Private Annuities.
A private annuity is a promise by someone (such as a child) to pay a fixed amount of money to you every year for the rest of your life. You buy this annuity by paying money, or selling an asset, to the person who has promised to make the payments to you. This is in contrast with a commercial annuity, which is payable by an insurance company, or with a charitable gift annuity, which is payable by a charity. The amount of the payment is based on IRS tables which take into account IRS life expectancy tables and an IRS determined interest rate, as well as the amount you paid for the annuity promise. The promise must be unsecured, so you are relying on the creditworthiness of the person making the promise. The payments you receive are partially ordinary income, with the balance either a tax-free return of your investment (basis) or capital gain. The person making the payments will invest the money you've transferred to him or her (so generally that means the person will be paying income tax on the income), but doesn't get a deduction for the payments made to you. Thus, effectively, the income earned on the money you've transferred is taxed twice (once to the person making the payments and again to you.) Generally, a private annuity makes financial sense only if you die within a few years after buying the annuity; on the other hand, if you are suffering from an illness expected to kill you within a year (or in some cases, two years), the IRS tables can't be used but rather your actual life expectancy must be used to set the amount of the payments. (Generally, it doesn't make sense to fund a private annuity with appreciated assets.)
We prepare a variety of Deeds, most commonly Grant Deeds to transfer title to your revocable trust.
We provide Medi-Cal Planning services to those individuals or families facing the daunting task of paying for skilled nursing care in California. To understand Medi-Cal Planning, is it necessary to know the difference between Medi-Cal vs. Medicare.
Medicare is a federal insurance program paid out of Social Security deductions. All persons over 65 who have made Social Security contributions are entitled to the benefits, as well as disabled workers who have been eligible for Social Security disability benefits for at least two years. Medicare is not based on financial need. Anyone who meets the age, disability and/or coverage requirements is eligible.
Medicare does not pay for all medical expenses, and usually must be supplemented with private insurance ("medigap") or consumers can enroll in an HMO plan that contracts with Medicare. After 3 days of prior hospitalization, Medicare will pay up to 100% for the first 20 days of skilled nursing care. For the 21 to 100 days, the patient will pay a co-payment. The premiums and copayments are increased every year. There will be no Medicare coverage for nursing home care beyond 100 days in any single benefit period. It should be noted that Medicare only pays for "skilled nursing care," does not pay for "custodial care" and the average stay under Medicare is usually less than 24 days. Thus, few can look to Medicare to pay for any substantial nursing home costs.
Medi-Cal is a combined federal and California program designed to help pay for medical care for low-income persons. Although Medi-Cal recipients may receive Medicare, the Medi-Cal program is not related to the Medicare program. Medi-Cal is a need-based program and is funded jointly with state and federal Medicaid funds.
SSI and other categorically-related recipients are automatically eligible. Others, whose income would make them ineligible for public benefits, may also qualify as "medically needy" if their income and resources are within the Medi-Cal limits.
California sets a "maintenance need standard". Since January 1, 1990 the maintenance need standard for a single elderly/disabled person in the community has been $600 monthly; the Long Term Care maintenance need level (i.e., personal needs allowance when someone is in a nursing home) remains at $35 monthly for each person. Individuals whose net monthly income is higher than the state payment rate may qualify for the program if they pay or agree to pay a portion of their income on monthly medical costs. This is called the "share of cost." Individuals eligible with a share of cost must pay or take responsibility for a portion of their medical bills each month before they receive coverage. Medi-Cal then pays the remainder, provided the services are covered by the program. This works much like an insurance deductible. The amount of the share of cost is equal to the difference between the "maintenance need standard" and the individual's net non-exempt monthly income.
Medi-Cal pays for health care services which meet the definition of "medically necessary." Services include: some prescriptions (although the Medicare Part D program now covers most prescriptions), physician visits, adult day health service, some dental care, ambulance services, some home health, X-ray and laboratory costs, orthopedic devices, eyeglasses, hearing aids, some medical equipment, etc. All covered services, or the remaining costs over the share of cost of nursing home care, will be covered if the individual meets income/resource requirements. Some services such as home health care, durable medical equipment, and some drugs require prior authorization.
Nursing home care is covered if there is prior authorization from the physician/health care provider. Residents are admitted on a doctor's order and their stay must be "medically necessary". Residents are allowed to keep $35 of their income as a personal needs allowance. Residents with no income may apply for the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Program (SSI/ SSP), and, if eligible, they will receive a payment of $50 as a personal needs allowance.
To qualify for Medi-Cal the recipient must demonstrate that they have limited resources available. Medi-Cal classifies property as "exempt" and "non-exempt." Exempt property is not counted in determining eligibility; non-exempt property is counted. One's home is considered exempt; this presents unique and profound planning opportunities.
A "Community" (at home) spouse may retain up to $109,560 in liquid assets, not including the home and other exempt assets, such as IRAs and retirement funds. Any assets above the property reserve limit of $2,000 or $109,560, in the case of a community spouse, or any asset that is not exempt will be counted by Medi-Cal in determining eligibility. These numbers adjust on a yearly basis.
Medi-Cal applicants, beneficiaries and their spouses should always be aware of the Medi-Cal Recovery rules and plan ahead by consulting a qualified professional if they want to avoid recovery on their home or other assets. Our services include both assisting individuals in qualifying for Medi-Cal as well as protecting their estates from state recovery efforts.
What Should You Expect?
The first step in the planning process is to schedule a consultation with one of the attorneys in our office. If, after your initial consultation, it is determined that Medi-Cal is a viable planning option for you, then we will gather information about your personal care needs, monthly expenses, your goals regarding long term care, and your financial resources. We will discuss the benefits that might be available to you if you qualify, the application process, and what role we would play in that process.
We will discuss fees with you in advance. Once the assessment is completed, we will make a recommendation to you about whether you might qualify for Medi-Cal benefits, and you will have the information you need to decide whether you would like to file an application for benefits.
If you are a beneficiary of a person's estate and been told by a financial institution that you need "letters testamentary" before you can access an account or told by a real estate agent that you need court approval before a piece of real estate can be sold, then you are facing a probate proceeding. Probate allows the estate of the deceased individual to be distributed to the beneficiaries or rightful heirs. The distribution will follow the decedent's Will or if no Will exists, then distribution will follow the California "intestate" laws. Probate serves as a way to transfer assets, resolve debts and clear title so the decedent's assets can be transferred to their rightful heirs. It is a complicated and time-consuming process. Whatever your circumstances, we will provide you with legal guidance and assistance in determining the best method of handling your probate matter.
Have you or a family member been designated as the successor trustee of a living trust?
If the person who created the trust (the "trustor") is still alive, it's not too early to attempt to understand what responsibilities that designation brings, and to educate yourself as to how the trustor can make your eventual task as simple as possible.
If the trustor has passed away and you are facing the reality of "administering" the trust, you absolutely need guidance. The fiduciary obligation that is imposed upon successor trustees carries significant weight in our legal system, and one must be vigilant to avoid breaching that duty. This is not to say that the designation of a successor trustee necessarily imposes a tremendous burden on the designee, but the path to a smooth administration of a trust is riddled with potential pitfalls, and it is reassuring to have experienced counsel to assist in the process.
The experts at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys have provided assistance to countless successor trustees, and are available to assist you, family members or friends who may be facing the task of carrying out an estate plan. The amount of assistance is up to you - clearly, some trusts (and some trustees) require more help than others - we are ready to help with whatever level of guidance your situation warrants.
WILL CONTESTS / TRUST LITIGATION
We've all heard the stories of families fighting over the estate of a deceased relative. Unfortunately, sometimes these battles are unavoidable (regardless of how well one tries to head them off in advance through effective planning). Most often, they result from a poorly-crafted estate plan (or, obviously, a failure to plan at all).
No one likes these types of contests, since they often cause irreparable harm to a family, so the attorneys at Botti & Morison are predisposed to attempt to work to bring family members to a mutually-acceptable solution through artful negotiation. If, however, a lawsuit over a will or a trust erupts, our attorneys have the experience and ability to work with you to zealously represent your interests.
If you believe that the estate of a loved one is headed for a battle, don't wait, contact us right away - the longer you wait, the more unlikely it is that an amicable settlement may be reached.
VETERANS BENEFIT PLANNING
If you are a wartime veteran or the spouse of a wartime veteran, you may be entitled to receive a monthly cash payment to offset the burden of nursing home, assisted living, or in-home care costs. The monthly cash payment available from the Veteran's Administration is paid through the Aid and Attendance Program and is referred to as a monthly "pension." If you are a veteran and you qualify, you are entitled to receive a monthly cash payment of $1,644 (2010). If you have a spouse, you will receive an additional amount each month. If you are the surviving spouse of a wartime veteran and you qualify, you are entitled to receive a monthly cash payment of $1,056 (2010).
To qualify for benefits, you must present medical records showing you meet the medical eligibility requirements. You must also show you have limited income and assets. The Veteran's Administration will also take a close look at your financial assets, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts, life insurance, annuities, and retirement accounts.
What Should You Expect?
The first step in the planning process is to schedule a consultation with one of the attorneys in our office. If after your initial consultation it is determined that Veteran's Administration Planning is a viable option for you, then we will gather information about your personal care needs, monthly expenses, your goals regarding long term care, and your financial resources. We will discuss the benefits that might be available to you if you qualify, the application process, and what role we would play in that process.
We will discuss fees with you in advance. Once the assessment is completed, we will make a recommendation to you about whether you might qualify for Veteran's Administration benefits, and you will have the information you need to decide whether you would like to file an application for benefits.
Conservatorship is a judicial process by which a probate court judge appoints a responsible person to serve as the conservator of another adult. Just about anyone, including the proposed conservatee, can file a petition for conservatorship. Conservators are appointed according to priority as follows:
- Adult Child
- Any other interested person
- Public guardian
If the person with highest priority declines to act, he or she can nominate another. If all qualified family members and friends refuse to serve, the court will likely appoint a private professional fiduciary. All conservators are entitled to reasonable fees for their services and are paid from the conservator's estate. Fees are paid, however, only after fee statements have been reviewed and approved by the probate court judge.
The scope of a conservator's power is separated into two parts, the "person" and the "estate." Power over the "person" includes authority to make decisions regarding day to day activities, such as where a conservatee lives, what they do, how they do it and who they visit. Power over the "estate" includes authority to make decisions about the conservatee's assets, such as managing rental property, collecting income, paying bills and investing. The scope of a conservator's powers may include both the "person" and "estate" or may be limited to one or the other.
Before appointing a conservator, a probate judge must find that the proposed conservatee lacks the ability to provide for self-care and protection. It takes approximately six weeks from the day a petition is filed with the probate court before an appointment may be made. It could take longer if there is opposition. In rare cases of extreme urgency, a temporary conservator may be appointed within a couple of days.
Limited conservatorships are similar to regular conservatorships, except they are used for developmentally disabled people (A conservatee is usually autistic or has an IQ of less than 70). Conservators in limited conservatorships have limited authority because most developmentally disabled people are capable of making some decisions.
LPS conservatorships are reserved for people who are seriously mentally ill and require special care and treatment. LPS conservatees are typically confined to locked facilities or administered very powerful medicine to control their behavior. LPS conservatorships are not appropriate for people suffering from dementia; they should be conserved under a regular conservatorship proceeding.
Conservatees typically share some of the following characteristics: they can no longer effectively perform daily tasks such as shop for food, make meals, bathe, dress themselves, clean the house, drive a vehicle, protect and defend themselves, keep accurate records, account for their money or pay bills. They are often lonely, isolated and withdrawn. They are therefore deemed susceptible to fraud and scams.
Knowing when to seek a conservatorship can be difficult. The "right time" is not always obvious, as a potential conservatee may appear lucid one day and confused the next. One must balance the proposed conservatee's desire for independence with the need for safety. Conservatees may voice opposition to "losing their freedom" and the process can be somewhat complicated. So when it's time to consider conserving a loved one, we can provide the advice and counsel needed.
Guardianship is a court proceeding in which a probate judge gives someone who is not the parent:
1.) Custody of a child, or
2.) The power to manage the child's property (called an "estate"), or both.
To get appointed as a guardian one must fill out and file forms with the local Probate Clerk. Afterwards a Court investigator will interview the applicant and the child. If the child's parents are alive and available, the investigator may interview them as well. The investigator will make a recommendation to the judge and if there are no objections to the appointment and, after reviewing the case, the judge finds the appointment is in the child's best interest, one will likely be appointed as its guardian. We handle all guardianship matters from simple uncontested matters ,to complex highly-contested international matters.
- EXISTING ESTATE PLAN ATTORNEY REVIEW
Beware of Trust Mills!
Did you purchase a living trust from an organization that you thought was a law firm? Here’s how a “trust mill” works: under the pretext of preparing your estate plan, sales people from these companies obtain your personal financial information in order to use in advancing their hidden agenda: selling inappropriate annuities and other similar investments, most often to senior citizens. According to the California Attorney General:
“To give themselves a cloak of legitimacy, these sales agents pretend to be experts in living trusts. In their solicitations, these sales agents often pose as expert financial or estate planners. They pass themselves off as a “trust advisor,” “senior estate planner” or “paralegal,” and schedule an initial appointment with seniors in their homes. … They sometimes work in assisted living centers, churches and other places where seniors gather, hooking elderly victims through free seminars and other sales presentations. Seniors pay substantial sums of money to sales agents for living trusts, but sometimes, through fraud and deceit, the sales agents damage seniors’ estate plans, and the security of their investments and life savings. … Planning an estate and choosing investments involve important legal, financial and personal decisions. If estate planning documents are not properly prepared or executed they can be invalid and cause lasting damage.”
Does this sound familiar? If so, you should be concerned. You can view the California Attorney General’s full warning concerning Trust Mills. If you have reason to believe that your estate plan was prepared by one of these companies, or if you’re uncertain as to the origin of your documents, you should schedule a free consultation with us.