Just as is the case anywhere in the country, anyone here in Illinois can become the victim of a scam, but it is seniors who seem to be the largest target group. Scams come from a variety of sources, even estate planning. People prey on the fact that seniors may not have put a plan into place yet and may feel pressured to execute one.
For example, living trusts can be a useful tool for many people, but they do not fit everyone’s circumstances. Anyone pushing this type of estate planning document without first assessing an individual’s situation and needs may just be after money. Those who push “one size fits all” estate plans including a living trust are more than likely just looking to take a vulnerable person’s money.
In other cases, someone purporting to be an estate planner may attempt to get a senior to sign a power of attorney giving him or her control over the aging individual’s finances or property. Others may attempt to get a senior to pay for an estate plan without having the legal authority to create one. Financial planners, accountants and others may have training in estate planning in order to help advise people, but only attorneys can draft estate plans on behalf of another party.
When it comes to estate planning, it is never too late to start. However, Illinois seniors may want to avoid anyone who solicits their business. An attorney may advertise services within certain parameters, but it is an ethics violation to make “cold calls” or otherwise approach someone directly for business. Anyone doing so could be attempting to scam individuals into parting with their money. In addition, any estate planning documents executed under these circumstances may not stand up to the scrutiny of the court and may end up costing surviving family members additional time and money to sort out the mess.