California consumers should beware of “Living Trust Mills” when doing estate planning, because they may actually be a scheme represented by salespeople posing as “living trust experts.” These salespeople sell annuities and other investments under the guise of helping people create a living trust.
Senior citizens are particularly at risk because these salespeople deliberately target them. Many salespeople use home visits or through free seminars in churches, senior centers, senior housing communities and other places where seniors gather to in order to locate their targets. The sales people then use the financial information shared with them by unsuspecting consumers to frighten these people into thinking that their current investments are inferior and riskier than the ones the salespeople are selling.
Beware of any seminar or advertisement that includes language such as “A licensed insurance agent may contact you.” This is a red flag that you are dealing with a Living Trust Mill. The California Attorney General's office offers the following tips to avoid being victimized by a living trust mill:
–Living trust mills' sales agents are usually not attorneys and are not experts in estate planning.
–Watch out for companies that sell trusts and also try to sell annuities or other investments.
–Sales agents may fail to disclose possible adverse tax consequences or early withdrawal penalties that may be incurred when transferring stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit or other investments to annuities.
–An annuity is not 100 percent safe, and only a portion is guaranteed by the state.
–Insurance companies can and do fail, and their assets may not be enough to pay the full value of their customers' investments.
–So called “promissory notes” are not insured by the FDIC or any other government agency and may be very risky. They may not be registered as securities with the state.
–Before consumers buy an annuity or any other investment, they should review it with
people they know and trust, such as their financial or tax advisor, their attorney and trusted family members.
–Before making any changes to an estate plan consumers should consult a licensed attorney, preferably a certified specialist in estate planning and trusts. Beware of anyone trying to set up your estate plan AND sell you products to place in the plan.
If you would like more information concerning your estate planning options, www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for personal wealth management solutions through wills and revocable trusts. Whether your estate planning goals are immediate or long-term, a California certified estate planning specialist will be able to counsel you on the best options available to you to meet your individual needs. You can also get information about Medi-Cal (Medicaid) for long term care at www.Medi-CalHelp.com.