Beware of Trust Mills

Randall Armour of the Santa Clarita Valley Signal wrote an article discussing Trust Mills and gives some advice on how to spot a trust mill and several problems associated with them.

1. Trust mills often prepare documents after the client has filled out a simple check-the-box-type questionnaire. Little or no counseling or advice is given to the client and the client may meet with a “paralegal,” CPA or financial adviser, but not with an attorney.

2. The cost of the documents is a good indicator of whether or not you are dealing with a trust mill. Trust mills usually charge from $300 to $700 for their documents. Just remember, you get what you pay for — in this case, not very much!

3. Trust mills often provide documents for limited purposes such as avoiding probate or estate taxes.

4. A major problem with trust mills is the lack of proper assistance in funding the trust. Most mill trusts created are not properly funded and the documents do not provide a way of funding the trust after death without probate. A trust must be properly funded to work.

Some common issues not dealt with by Trust Mills are:

Failure to fund, mentioned above.
Failure to consider retirement funds and insurance policy funds which could lead to increased estate taxes, distributions, and income tax.
Failure to address issues such as incompetency, children from prior marriages and tailoring management and distribution of assets for beneficiaries who may be unable to properly manage their inheritance.

For more issues with Trust Mills and what other states are doing to stop them from harming their citizens see this article.

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