buy! AARP does not endorse or recommend any living trust product at this time. The attorney general noted these services will use a probate scare (lengthy probate process time & big expense !
Never give personal or confidential family and financial information to a salesperson, even if the salesperson promises it will be passed on to a licensed lawyer. Meet or discuss the matter with the lawyer personally. Check out the state bar for license status. Ask if you would be working directly with the attorney on a regular basis. Ask If they are locally based. Ask if they take continuing legal education in the estate planning law (locally / state / federal).
Watch out for companies that sell trusts and also try to sell annuities or other investment. Under the guise of setting up a living trust, financial information disclosed to salespeople may be used to sell financial products, such as annuities. In some instances, the real goal of the living trust sale is to gain access to asset information in order that sales agents can earn high commissions by "moving" existing investments into others being sold by the living trust company.
If the salesperson says part of the trust cost will pay the lawyer's fee, do not buy! A lawyer may not split a fee with the salesperson or the trust company.
Discuss whether you can get your money back if you are not satisfied, and get the promise in writing. But remember, places can file bankruptcy and can also be headquartered out of your jurisdiction!
Living Trusts - Beware of "One Size Fits All" Trust Kits, Estate Plans & "Free Lunch Seminars"
Misinformation about the cost and complexity of probate provides a golden opportunity for sales pitches exploiting fears that life savings may be lost to taxes, predatory probate attorneys, or distributed years after death because of court delays. With laws curbing telemarketing sales calls, use of free lunch seminars to pitch estate planning products have surged. Promoted as "educational" programs, these seminars are commonly a sales job in disguise. Be alert to seminars pushing "one size fits all" estate planning products, including living trusts. A decision as important as estate planning should be made with reliable, professional counsel who can help you decide what estate plan is best for your own individual situation, rather than someone whose primary interest is making a sale.
Purchasing a Trust Tips
Do not be pressured into purchasing a trust based on the in-home sales pitch of a salesman, or immediately following a seminar. Before making any purchase decision, consult with an independent and reliable professional with the necessary background to help you decide what estate plan is best for your individual situation. If you already have a lawyer, discuss the living trust offer with him or her before buying.
Do not take the word of a sales agent (or another other person with any title that is not a licensed attorney (check the active license status with the Michigan State Bar ) as to whether a trust is the best estate plan for you.
The selection of the appropriate estate plan for your circumstances should not be based on the representations of a person whose primary interest is in making a sale of his company's estate plan product, and who is not a lawyer or reliable estate planning professional guided by an attorney. If the sales agent says that the purchase price will include consultation with an attorney, wait until after the promised attorney consultation to select and pay for the estate plan.
*Before buying a living trust from a stranger, call a local lawyer and ask him or her what they charge for preparing trusts. Often the price is much higher than what a local lawyer would charge. Companies selling living trusts rely on the public's apprehension that attorneys are costly.
Be wary if a trust salesperson promises specific results or dollar savings. Costs of probate and attorney fees vary greatly from state to state, and according to personal circumstances.
Check out trust company lawyers with the State Bar of Michigan. If the trust salesperson promises a lawyer will review the customer's documents, demand the name of the lawyer and check with the State Bar of Michigan to make certain the lawyer is licensed to practice in Michigan.
If the salesperson gives the impression that his
or her company or the living trust being sold is
recommended or endorsed by AARP, do not
Are other products being sold? Often estate planning wills and trusts services are attempting to sell investment products (their own or comissioned/kick-backs). The investment products being sold very often generate large fees to the sellers of these products. Ask if the seller is licensed to sell fi nancial products. Better yet, if someone is selling both will and trust kits and investment products, throw the mailer away or
hang up the telephone.
Beware of solicitations for trusts & other estate planning programs! See bottom of this page for details.