Thursday, April 16, 2015

3 Steps to Avoid Estate Planning Scams

Estate planning scams cover the internet, newspaper, TV and radio. Strangely, it's hard to be anywhere and not be exposed to all sorts of scams. But estate planning scams? Yes, scams about wills and trusts have existed for decades.

Knowing how to recognize these scams can help you keep your family and property safe and secure. In this article we explore three simple steps you can follow to ensure that your will or trust are prepared by competent professionals. That is everyone's goal: to have a valid, current and effective will, trust and estate plan.

Step 1. Something that sounds too good to be true is.

I have always been amazed at what folks will fall for but that never seems to stop it from happening. And my amazement will not protect you--only you can do that. The first step is always to apply this simple smell test: if what you are seeing or hearing seems too good to be true it usually is. In any event, get it checked out with your qualified estate planning attorney. More on how to find those qualified attorneys later.

Step 2. Avoid DIY or Do It Yourself documents and programs.

As the picture at the top of this article shows, disaster is the usual result of self attempting in a complex field where hidden traps and disasters await. Please read the numerous articles here on the dangers of DIY wills and trusts.  To top those off, here is another recent article for your reading pleasure:


Step 3. Deal with real, qualified estate planning experts.

You might think this is sales pitch for lawyers, but if you care about protecting yourself, your family and your money, is the right thing to trust your will, trust and estate plan to someone not qualified to help? Of course not.

Dealing with an unqualified attorney or any other person not an actual estate planning specialist can have you end up here:

Or here, in probate court trying to get the mess straightened out:

There are numerous articles here on how to find a qualified estate planning attorney. To save you the time, here is the list of qualifications to insist on:

  1. The attorney should be a full-time estate planning specialist. In other words, wills and trusts are all they do.
  2. The full-time specialist should have at least seven (7) years of full time specialization in this area.
  3. Make sure the full-time specialist has an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell the international attorney peer ratings system.
  4. The attorney should be a member of either: their local bar association's Trust and Estate Section; local estate planning council or ACTEC.
These three steps, if followed, will help you avoid scams about wills and trusts and help you ensure that your estate planning documents will actually help you and your family.

Let us know your thoughts and join our conversation about estate planning or ask us any questions that you may have. We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Bernie Greenberg


  1. Thank you for these tips! There are a lot of businesses online and you need to make sure that they are a good business especially with lawyers. They handle very important things and as a client you put a lot of faith in them. I will remember this when I am getting an estate planning lawyer to help me with my will.

  2. I like your tip to avoid DIY estate planning. I think that many people do this because they don't feel that they have the money to take care of legal fees. However, particularly when are talking about things that are important to you such as children, pets, or cherished possessions. It is probably a good idea to spend a little money to be sure that they are taken care of.

    Estate Planning


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