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Beware of estate planning scams targeting seniors

It's sad that some of the most common scam victims are senior citizens. You may have seen stories about these scams in the news and grew concerned for your parent or grandparent. Scammers target older adults because of their perceived saved income.

In 2018, Washington's attorney general had a judge place an injunction on a local estate planning company for its lifetime estate planning service. The company sold these packages at free workshops to seniors who didn't understand what they purchased, then took their retirement savings to convert them to annuities without their knowledge. This injunction stopped the company from selling their estate planning services.

Accessing annuity funds is more difficult and withdrawals come with penalties. That further hurts the victims of this crime.

Funeral and cemetery scams

Two other common scams against seniors involve funerals and cemetery plots.

A funeral scam is where a stranger attends a funeral they saw in an obituary and attempts to extort money by claiming the deceased owed them money. Another common scheme is unsavory funeral homes who will add extraneous costs to the bill like caskets for a cremation services. The cost of a casket alone adds thousands of dollars to their pockets, which is why this scam happens.

The FBI offers advice to protect your loved ones and family from exploitation. Tell your parent or grandparent to research funeral costs before stepping foot in a funeral home so they have a better idea of what is necessary. If possible, it's not a bad idea for you or another trusted individual to go with them.

Be sure to get everything in writing and have your loved one read anything before signing.

An estate plan could protect your loved one

A great way to protect your parent or grandparent is to help them establish a legally-binding estate plan. A Burial/Cremation Directive can disseminate their wishes for end-of-life services, among other things. With their money safely conveyed into a trust, you won't have to worry about a con artist attempting to steal their retirement savings.

It's understandable to worry about your loved one with people out there looking to take advantage of them. An estate plan can provide them peace of mind knowing their final wishes will be carried out and their beneficiaries taken care of.

For you, an estate plan means knowing that their resources are secure for their golden years.

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