I review a lot of existing estate plans, and I see a lot of estate plans that are terrible and beyond repair. Why? Sometimes the reason is they were created by a "trust mill".
What is a "trust mill"? Well, you will see all kinds of definitions, but it is easier to describe a trust mill by telltale signs. Here are some warning signs to look for:
- Free estate planning seminar. That alone does not make it a trust mill. Legitimate estate planning attorneys offer free seminars all of the time. Keep reading.
- The presenter is not an attorney. That alone does not make it a trust mill. It's just that trust mill seminar presenters often are not attorneys.
- The organization offering to prepare your estate plan is NOT based anywhere near where the seminar is taking place. Trust mills find their clients by going on road trips and offering free seminars in locations that are far flung from where they are actually located.
- The organization offering to prepare your estate is not a lawyer or a law firm.
- The organization offering to prepare your estate plan does not offer service after the sale. No annual reviews. No amendments or updates (even if you pay for them). No probate or trust administration services.
- But the most telltale sign of them all is the organization is selling trust-based estate plans for a fee that is way below "market". As with most things, you get what you pay for. If the price is too good to be true, it probably will be worth LESS than what you paid for it. If you are not sure what "market" is, meet with an attorney who SPECIALIZES in estate planning and who has put down roots in your area. He or she is way more likely to have a reputation to protect and provide service after the sale.
For more information about trust mills, read these helpful articles: