A trust mill employee will typically send out a mailer offering estate planning services. When you respond, a non-lawyer will solicit the estate planning products they provide and once you agree to pay for them, you will speak to a lawyer who quickly goes over some of your basic information. The lawyer will prepare a trust and even try to sell additional products such as insurance annuities that elderly people don't need. A huge ethical conflict arises when a lawyer, who is supposed to have your best interest in mind, tries to sell you financial annuities. Often times the annuity is grossly unfair and contains restrictions that limit your ability to opt out of it.
The trust is usually a basic document that in no way is tailored to the needs of the client. This type of trust puts your assets at risk. When a trust is not specifically tailored to each client, your wishes as to the distribution of your assets may be compromised and your estate may be hit with unnecessary tax burdens that could have been avoided.
If you purchased your estate planning documents from a trust mill, you should immediately seek out the services of an experienced estate planning attorney who can review your documents and make sure that they are sufficient. In most cases, changes need to be made in order to ensure that you have an effective estate plan in place. If you were sold an annuity that was not in your best interest, a lawyer may be able to help get your money back.
Here are some signs that you purchased estate planning documents from a trust mill:
1. You never spoke with a lawyer directly, and if you did, the lawyer spoke with you only briefly over the phone.
2. The lawyer or trust mill employee tried to sell additional financial products such as an annuity or insurance policy.
3. The documents that were prepared for you seem generic and not tailored to your situation.
4. There are inconsistencies in the documents.
5. The lawyer may have some misconduct issues listed on the California State Bar website...just look up his/her bar #.
If you noticed any of these signs when your purchased your estate planning documents, consult with an experienced attorney soon to avoid the unnecessary expense and hassle that comes with failed estate plans. Often times, a reputable attorney will charge less for their services than trust mils, not only because we don't sell things you don't need, but because we charge our clients fairly for work.