There are lots of misconceptions, wrong information, and confusion regarding estate planning. Estate planning is your life’s biggest decision ever taken by you and setting it properly is a key to be ensured that you will leave behind your assets and loved ones secured. Hence, irrespective of your age or the monetary value of the property you own, you must have your estate plan in place which can be in the form of a will or trust or both depending on your wealth.
This will help you to clearly outline your final wishes and secure your interests after your demise. In case of an unexpected and untimely death, you can be assured that your assets will be distributed according to your desire and your family will get the financial help they need after you pass away.
In order to get so, it is highly recommended, to have your plan ready while ensuring that you avoid the scams involved, especially the senior folks. Some individuals who have involved in the scam prey on the senior folks and vulnerable adults. These scams include trust mills, hefty fees, and wrong advice. Exploitative advisors will often charge hefty fees, unnecessary bills and advise you to either sign your power of attorney or the property to someone who might not be your choice, not in your interest and even to themselves to control the estate. It is important to know what these scams are and how they can be avoided.
Common Estate Planning Scams-
1. You must own a plan: While planning your estate, it is said that the sooner the better. At a young age, while you are thinking that it is the time for you to accumulate wealth, you never know what life brings you to the next turn. Hence, you must put your plan in place even if you are single so that the wealth you own that can be your house, your vehicle and that little saving can be passed on to the ones of your choice. You are vulnerable to scams every time, however, it can prove to be worse with the advancement of your age. These individuals take advantage of elderly folks as they have diminished cognitive abilities and don’t have anyone (close relatives) who are keeping an eye for them and thus these folks sometime can’t even realize that they are being scammed.
There are many professionals like accountants, bankers, insurance agents, etc., available who can help you in your estate planning by giving suggestions, pointing out the problems and issues involved. However, only the lawyers are legally authorized to draft your estate planning documents like a will, trust, etc.
2. Fees involved: Many lawyers or advisors ask for hefty fees or unnecessary bills which you have to look for. You must have a trusted lawyer while drafting your documents who neither take unnecessary money form you or your heirs in the future in the name of their fee or any sort of bill. If you have estate planning documents ready with a lawyer who was genuine and trustworthy, then you must introduce your heirs to him/her so that after your demise they will contact only him/her. If the event of your death, if they contact any other lawyer (which is not required at all) who might not be trustworthy and can charge hefty fees from your heirs in the name of handling the estate or scamming them by mentioning any other legal terms.
Hence, to avoid your heirs from falling into any such scams, you must let them know what to do after your demise and whom to contact in case of any confusion. Wrong advice and scams are all around and every new day is coming up with a new scam, hence you must yourself and let your heirs be aware as well so that you won’t lose a good sum on money to a predatory third-party.
3. One size doesn’t fit all (Trust Mills): The latest scam involved in estate planning is “trust mills” which you must watch out for. The scammers prey on seniors and fear them that after their death their assets will be taken by the government or by probate and compel them to opt for living trust which might not be required for them. They do this to trap the senior folks and earn a good amount for their living trust kit which indicates clearly that the lawyer is not good.
Apart from the aforementioned scams, you need to be aware of a lot of other things while estate planning. However, you should not prevent yourself from doing so. You must keep two things in mind that don’t wait and don’t take shortcuts. Also, you must hire a reputable lawyer to prevent from falling into the scammer’s trap, who can be referred from your close relatives or friends. Using the software or pre-packaged documents to plan your estate is highly not recommended. Remember, the sooner the better!