Don’t Get Scammed in Virginia!

ScamsDid you know that estate planning scams are becoming more and more common? Here are three tips for making sure you are never a victim.

Estate planning scams are becoming more and more common, with people falling victim to unscrupulous and unqualified sellers of dubious estate planning documents. A recent Webwire article, titled "How to Avoid an Estate Planning Scam," points out some keys to keep in mind when considering your estate planning options.

Employ a qualified estate planning attorney. Do-It-Yourself is very popular these days, from home improvement to filing income taxes. There are many websites that offer DIY wills. Beware! Estate planning is not a point-and-click or fill-in-the-blank proposition: it is a complex area of law with different rules depending on where you reside. Use a licensed, experienced estate planning attorney to prepare your estate plan. Check with the state bar and make sure he or she is licensed to practice law in your state.

Take Your Time. We are all in a rush these days. Everything has to be on-demand. Well, an experienced and qualified estate planning attorneys will not be rushed—and that is a good thing.  He or she will take the time necessary to get to know you and your goals for estate planning.  Likewise, you should know that you have the ability to ask questions and to seek additional information about their services. If you attend an estate planning seminar, do not feel pressured into purchasing their products or services on the spot, and never purchase a pre-printed or pre-fabricated "Living Trust Kit.” Your loved ones and your property deserve more than this, and you will get it by speaking one-on-one with an estate planning attorney.

Ask Questions.The original article reminds us that a qualified estate planning attorney has years of legal training and experience, and should be able to explain all planning scenarios and potential outcomes in easy-to-understand language. The article suggests that if the language is too difficult to understand, do not sign it.

Lastly, the original article cautions that it pays to remember the old adage "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." If you hear someone tell you, "Anyone can write a will," or "You don't need to be an attorney," be assured that this person does not have the training, education, and experience to do a thorough job. An unlicensed or unqualified "professional" may be able to offer you a screaming deal, but recall another old adage: "You get what you pay for." Many times families that use such a service do not discover there is an issue until after the person’s death—when it is too late to correct the mistake. This can mean assets passing to unintended recipients, unnecessary taxes and fees, and heated fights between loved ones.  A qualified estate planning attorney will team with you to create an appropriate plan that meets your objectives and your family’s needs—without any pressuring sales job.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: elder law planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.

Reference:  Webwire (August 29, 2014) "How to Avoid an Estate Planning Scam"


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.