Protect Yourself from Fraud
Recently a client came in to discuss probating his mother’s will. With him, he brought a two inch leather bound binder filled with thick marbled paper, complete with fancy borders and script font. It was his mother’s estate planning documents. By all appearances, it was the most elegant and orderly estate plan I’ve seen. But upon closer inspection, it was clear that this “estate plan” was the product of a scam. For one, it was prepared by a man holding himself out to be “estate planner.” This “estate planner” was not a licensed attorney. Nevertheless, he drafted a living trust, pour-over will, power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and advance medical directive. The living trust was completely unnecessary, and the advance medical directive was improperly executed, making it invalid. Worse, this estate planner charged attorney fees for something no attorney would have advised. In the end, the client paid $1,000 for a fancy binder.
Scams like these are not uncommon. Living trusts are a growing area of consumer fraud for the elderly. For most people, living trusts are unnecessary. And poorly drafted or ill-advised trusts end up costing families more after a loved one’s death. When thinking about an estate plan, consult a licensed Texas attorney and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your estate plan should be carefully drafted for your specific situation and needs. Remember, don’t be fooled by appearances — it’s what’s on the inside that counts.