Many seniors in the U.S. fall victim to living trust scammers who scare and intimidate their victims into purchasing worthless, unnecessary trusts. Seniors need to know what to look out for to avoid being victims.
Going through probate can be burdensome on an estate. The estate tax can devastate the wealth of estates. Both of these are true statements. However, it does not follow from those statements that everyone should seek to keep their estates out of probate and use estate planning tools designed to get around the estate tax.
Most smaller and less complicated estates will have little difficulty with probate. 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.
Seniors who are worried about the estate tax or probate should take matters into their own hands by contacting an experienced estate planning attorney and getting real advice. If you have any questions about whether or not a trust is right for you, please contact my office for a consultation.
Reference: Business In Savannah (Feb. 24, 2016) "Seniors vulnerable to scams on trusts."