Common Estate Planning Scams Targeting Seniors – Guest Post


Estate Planning

In this guide, we’re exploring some common estate planning scams targeting elderly people. Estate planning is a hot topic when people reach a certain age, and this can be a way for scammers and con artists to try and gain someone’s trust and take advantage.

Why Are The Elderly Frequently The Targets of Scams?

Adults over the age of 50 are the most common victims of estate planning scams, especially those who have no close relatives. Financial fraud victims over the age of 50 are estimated to lose an average of $34,200 to opportunistic con artists, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. People in this group may be particularly vulnerable to certain frauds for a number of reasons, including:

  • Adults over the age of 50 are more likely to have significant assets and higher net worth.
  • Many people in this age group are unfamiliar with the estate planning process, making them easy prey for scammers.
  • Many older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation, leading to poor decision-making and making the elderly vulnerable to dangerous situations.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is making a plan for what will happen to your belongings, including your property when you die. This way, you can distribute your assets using an estate planning attorney to ensure you don’t pay more taxes than you have to and that your family gets access to your belongings as you had hoped and intended.

Common Estate Planning Scams

Let’s look at some common scams that can occur in the estate planning area and the ways in which con artists are looking to catch the elderly out.

Living Trust Mill Scams

Some scams called living trust mills became very popular in recent years. Fraudsters created events offering free meals, and they’d give presentations in which they used aggressive sales tactics and scare tactics to try and force them to make a living trust.

The con artists would then usually make those at the event pay large sums of money to them to submit forms relating to a living trust. Living trusts themselves are real and may help, but you need the help of an attorney.

Cold Calls Offering to Prepare Estate Plans

If you receive a call offering to prepare your estate plan, be wary. There are many scams that don’t do what is best for your money or try to dupe elderly people into making bad financial decisions.

IRS Scams

IRS scams come in many different forms. Individuals may impersonate members of government to try and get you to pay something related to your estate, or intimidate elderly people into paying fees they aren’t actually liable for. They may also target your private information.

Fake Charities Asking For a Charitable Bequest

This is when a sob story is sold to an elderly person to try and get a charitable bequest for once they have passed away, and some of the people scamming in this way can be forceful or even use scare tactics.

Fake Insurance Scams

Someone offering you a fake life insurance policy is an example of this, claiming that there will be a huge payout when you pass away. Usually, they will not call from a legitimate company and the policy may be completely bogus. Never work with a company you can’t verify.

How to identify and prevent an estate planning scam

There are some methods you can use to try and identify an estate planning scam and to spot when someone is trying to catch you out.

Don’t Give Out Personal Information Over The Phone

You shouldn’t be asked for private personal information over the phone. If a supposed government employee or other professional is asking for this it is a red flag. Never give private information out over the phone.

Ask About Qualifications

Feel free to ask those who are trying to sell to you where they are from, what ID they have, and their qualifications.

Don’t Sign Documents You Do Not Fully Understand

Never sign a document that you haven’t read and understood. Always read things thoroughly before agreeing to them.

You should always be comfortable refusing to sign a document and getting an attorney you trust to talk you through it.

If You Are Pressured to Take Action, it’s Probably a Scam

Pressure selling is one of the telltale signs of a scam. If someone is putting short timescales on a decision or trying to pressure you into saying yes to their offer then it is probable that they don’t have your best interests at heart.

Be cautious of Paying Exorbitant Legal Fees

If the legal fees are huge and seem disproportionate then make sure you check before paying them, and get legal advice on the sort of costs involved in estate planning.

Watch Out For Deals That Are Too Good to be True

It is one of the oldest sayings when it comes to scams, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get suckered in by an offering that is unrealistic, or promises to save or make you huge sums of money. Always check the legitimacy of the company in question.

4 Steps in Estate Planning for Parents – Guest Post


Estate Planning for Parents

Talking to your parents about their estate and end-of-life wishes isn’t easy or pleasant, but it’s an important topic to discuss. Helping your aging parents with estate planning isn’t just for your benefit. It’s not about claiming your inheritance, it’s about ensuring their wishes will be carried out when they pass away. Here are four steps you should cover when helping your folks plan their estate.

Be Patient and Considerate

Some people avoid talking about death at all costs, while others may start writing their wills early in life. Your parent may have no plans in place, or they may have started estate planning without your knowledge. Your parents’ feelings about aging and death matter, and you should take those feelings into consideration when breaching the topic of estate planning. Be considerate and thoughtful about how you ask them about their end-of-life plans. If you don’t get all the information you’re seeking the first time, just be patient and talk to them again later.

Hire an Estate Planning Attorney

You will need to hire an estate planning attorney to help you and your parents obtain the proper legal documentation. Your lawyer can also help you and your parents understand legal terms and laws around estate planning, guide your parents in making decisions that work best for them, and assist you with having important conversations with your parents about estate planning.

Include Care Planning

Estate planning isn’t just about deciding where your parents’ money will go when they die. An important part of end-of-life planning is figuring out how they want to be cared for if they become disabled during their final years. Maybe your parent doesn’t want to receive life support, or perhaps they prefer to pass away at home instead of in a nursing facility. Make sure to take the time to research possible options for them, if they choose a nursing home. This way when the moment arrives when moving your parents to a facility is necessary, you can be stress-free about where to take them. A living will can address these important topics.

Involve Your Siblings

If you have siblings, it’s very important to involve them in the estate planning process. Ask for their input and be transparent so there are no questions about what will take place when your parents pass away. The death of a parent can be very painful, and it can cause strong emotional reactions in even the calmest of people. Involving them early on in your parents’ end-of-life planning will prevent hurt feelings and confusion after the funeral.

Everyone passes away eventually. Although estate planning is by no means pleasant, having a plan set in place for your parents can reduce uncertainty at the end of their lives. It’s better to take care of these things now so you can have the time and space to grieve and remember your parents when that time comes. Remember to do the steps early, and use professional help.