Trust mills, or "living trust mills," are somewhat ubiquitous in the major urban areas of California - Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland and Sacramento. They appeal to seniors in the guise of one stop shopping and push packages for sale like a "California Living Trust Package", "Living Trust Estate Plan", or estate plan bundled packages.
When it comes to effective estate planning, some of the trust mills' theme song might be "Send in the Clowns." California's Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General cautions:
"Sales agents for these operations often misrepresent the disadvantages of seniors' current investments and the advantages of the investments the agents are selling. They may even make seniors believe their bank accounts are less safe than the annuities or other investments they want seniors to buy. To give themselves a cloak of legitimacy, these sales agents pretend to be experts in living trusts. In their solicitations, these sales agents often pose as expert financial or estate planners. They pass themselves off as a "trust advisor," "senior estate planner" or "paralegal," and schedule an initial appointment with seniors in their homes. Under the guise of helping set up or update a living trust, the sales agents find out about seniors' financial assets and investments. They sometimes work in assisted living centers, churches and other places where seniors gather, hooking elderly victims through free seminars and other sales presentations."
Many times over the years, I've been asked to decipher trusts that have been prepared by trust mills. It is not always pretty. People might receive a fancy package and embossed binder of papers that have nothing to do with their circumstances and are seemingly indecipherable.
There are better ways to approach the formation of California trusts than engaging a trust mill. There are several thousand California lawyers fully qualified to do estate planning for Californians and to do so consistent with legal and ethical guidelines.
While Hackard Law understands the trust and estate planning process, we focus on serving abused beneficiaries and heirs in California's major urban areas that find the need to litigate trust, estate and probate cases. If you find yourself with this need, call us at Hackard Law: (916) 313-3030. We look forward to speaking with you.