Estate planning scams are just one way that criminals target and take advantage of consumers. The Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “Beware of These Common Estate Planning Scams” advises you to avoid these common ploys.
- Cold Calls Offering to Prepare Estate Plans. Scammers call or email with “limited offers” for estate planning documents. They may pressure the consumer to act quickly before they miss out. Or they may reference non-exhistant “new laws” that require individuals to update their estate plans. Any cold call from someone asking that money be wired to a bank account, in exchange for estate planning documents should be approached with great skepticism.
- Paying for Generic Estate Planning Templates. For a one-time fee, some scammers will offer estate planning documents that may be downloaded to a computer and modified by the consumer. While this may look like a great deal, avoid using these pro-forma templates. Such templates are rarely tailored to meet state-specific requirements and often fail to incorporate contingencies that are necessary for a comprehensive and complete estate plan. Instead, work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
- Paying Esculating Legal Fees. Most Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorneys complete their legal work on a flat fee basis. Paying to have your intentions memorialized in writing now can minimize the expense and hassle for your family after you pass away. Probate work is done on an hourly basis, but in Texas, the cost should not exceed 5% of the total value of the Estate.
- Signing Estate Planning Documents You Don’t Understand. Estate planning documents are designed to prepare for potential incapacity and for death. It is critical that your estate planning documents represent your intentions. However, if you don’t read them or don’t understand what you’ve read, you will have no idea if your goals are accomplished. Make certain that you understand what you’re signing. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to explain these documents to you clearly and will make sure that you understand each of them before you sign.
- Not Requiring an Estate Plan. Although less of a scheme, some people think they do not need an estate plan. However, proper estate planning entails deciding who can make health care and financial decisions during life, in the event of incapacity. These documents help to minimize the likelihood that family members will need to petition the Probate Court for guardianship. Your documents should accurately reflect your wishes.
You can avoid these common scams, by establishing a relationship with an experienced attorney you trust.
Reference: The Wealth Advisor (June 7, 2021) “Beware of These Common Estate Planning Scams”