How to weed out California estate planning scams


Seniors in California may not know where to turn for good, trustworthy financial and legal advice. There are literally hundreds of firms and businesses out there advertising for legal and estate planning services, many at an extremely low cost. It can be very difficult for unwary customers to tell the established reputable firms from the imposters and scam artists. When it comes to something as important as you and your family's financial future, it is worth taking the time to thoroughly investigate and research any estate planning service or company before trusting your time and money with them.

One problem that the California estate planning industry has seen lately has been the widespread abundance of so-called "trust mills," which essentially target senior citizens and others with a "one-size-fits-all" package of estate planning services, usually at a fixed price. These trust mills might look appealing because of their low price, but often what the consumer gets is not tailored to their needs. In fact, these "one size fits all" programs may not even be legally enforceable or appropriate.

The cost of relying on unsound legal documents can cost much more than the cost of the initial services themselves. As a result, it is worth the initial investment to get it done right the first time and not have to deal with surprises at a time when a family is most vulnerable and stressed.

People who want to protect their assets should consult with an experienced and reputable California estates and trusts attorney who avoids making promises or tries to sell "one-size" bundles of services. Every client is unique and has unique legal needs, which is why they need an attorney who understands this fact and can provide the right amount of custom-designed services and documents at a reasonable price.

Source: CalBar.ca.org, "Financial Risks and Scams," accessed on March 15, 2015

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