Avoiding Living Trust Mills: A Warning from the Office of the Attorney General for California

The State of California Department of Justice provides information to consumers on estate planning scams on its website:  https://oag.ca.gov/consumers/general/living_trust_mills

This article will summarize the information published by the Attorney General on this website about how to identify and avoid estate planning fraud. Although in depth information will be provided below, one good way to avoid fraud is to only do business with reputable estate planning service providers. At the Law Office of David Knecht, all attorneys are licensed by the State Bar of California. We have extensive experience with estate planning and you can trust us to provide honest and accurate information. Contact us at 707-451-4502.


  •  What is a living trust?
  • A living trust is an estate planning tool that allows you to control your money and property during life and then have it distributed to your desired recipients (people or organization), when you pass away. 




  • Why do you need to be careful in choosing someone to help you create a living trust?


  • Estate planning involves important legal, financial and personal decision-making. If estate planning documents are not properly created and executed, the consequences may be that your wishes are not properly followed or there may be tax or other unintended consequences.



  • What should you look for in filtering through choices of estate planning professionals?


  • Confirm whether the person who claims to be licensed actually is licensed.
  • Obtain identification from the professional you are working with to confirm that they are who they profess to be. 
  • Be wary of any professional who is pushing selling you one single product rather than helping you consider a variety of options. 
  • Watch for scare tactics to try to motivate you to jump into something without a lot of time and thought. 
  • Look for someone who is trying to sell annuities as well as trusts. Seniors can find themselves trapped in an annuity that doesn’t pay out until a far future date. 
  • Know your cancelation rights. For more information on cancelation rights for sales that occur in your home, go to https://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/legal_guides/k_9.shtml



  •  What are some signs of a living trust mill?


  • Scammers working for “living trust mills” may try to sell you an unnecessary living trust oryou’re your financial information to sell you products that are inferior to your current investments. 
  • Scammers often target seniors with “free” seminars at assisted living facilities, churches, vacation resorts and any other places where seniors gather. 
  • Be wary of “one size fits all” approaches to estate planning. Not every person needs a living trust, and if the professional you are working with is not taking time to find our your particular assets and needs, then that is a red flag. 

Consult the Law Office of David Knecht

At the  Law Office of David Knecht,, we understand the importance of creating an environment of trust and confidence. We will perform a one-on-one evaluation to help you create an estate plan that is customized for your needs. Call us at 707-451-4502.