Financial scams are not uncommon, especially among older people. Financial planner scammers try to take advantage of consumers who do not understand estate planning.
According to the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, a financial planner scammer is someone who sells financial tools to people, but what they offer is not always valuable or beneficial to the buyer.
Basic sales approach
These scammers approach estate planning like selling a product. They cannot offer legal advice since they are not attorneys. They often do not know enough about estate plans and cannot explain how they work or how they are used.
They will usually approach you. They may call or come to your door. They will usually use a hook to grab your attention that is false, such as “we can help you avoid estate taxes”.
Signs of a scam
One way to spot these scammers is that they never have legitimate credentials. Becoming a financial planner legally requires a lot of schooling and training. It is not a job you can jump into without preparation.
You also want to back away from anyone pressuring you to buy or trying to make you afraid that if you do not do something right now that you will lose money. You also should be wary if the person gives legal advice but is not a lawyer. This is illegal.
Never create an estate document using a fill-in form where all you do is add names, addresses and other personal details. These forms are usually not effective and may not carry out your wishes. Estate planning should be done with an experienced elder law attorney who will help you make an effective personalized plan.
You should look out for scammers for yourself and the older people in your life. The services are often a waste of money and may not be legally effective.