In Williams v. National Western Life Insurance Company, the California Supreme Court found that an insurance agent was guilty of financial negligence and elder abuse. As a good, trustworthy probate lawyer in Roseville, CA will tell you, this sort of case is not too uncommon; in general, there seem to be a rising number of scams and elder abuse. If you are in the process of setting up a living trust — or really creating any sort of estate planning — make sure you do so with an attorney by your side to help avoid issues such as this one.
In Williams v. National Western Life Insurance Company, the plaintiff sought to revise a living trust; a living trust, if you are not familiar, is a document used to bypass probate court after someone dies. An appointed trustee is in charge of all legal assets that go into the trust. In this case, the plaintiff met with an insurance agent who sold them a $100,000 annuity from National Western Life Insurance Company. This annuity came with a 30-day trial period essentially, and the plaintiff ended up returning it within that window.
With help from the insurance agent, the plaintiff received a new annuity, but the plaintiff canceled that as well — well within the 30-day period. However, the insurance company charged the plaintiff close to $15,000 for surrendering the annuity because the company said it was not returned within the free trial window. This case was reviewed several times at different levels of the judicial system. In the end, the California Supreme Court found that the insurance agent was liable for negligence and elder abuse because in the insurance questionnaire, the agent stated the plaintiff’s income was greater than he was told, and increased the plaintiff’s net worth to a higher, untrue value.
Tips for Estate Planning
Estate planning is an important process that everyone should go through, regardless of age or wealth. A living trust can be a great way to ensure your assets are distributed the way you want, and to avoid probate. Probate can be a long and expensive process, so it’s best to consult with a probate lawyer before getting started. If at any time you would like to revise a trust, make sure to speak with your attorney before doing so. A probate lawyer will be able to advise you on the best course of action and recommend companies they trust to work with so you can feel secure in your decisions.
After you’ve begun your estate planning, you might be concerned about things that happen after your death, particularly if your beneficiary is a minor or someone who is unable to manage their money. To avoid probate while ensuring your loved ones are able to access money as needed, consider setting up a trust for any minors or individuals with special needs in your life. This can help make sure their funds are accessible to them when they need it and avoid problems associated with probate, such as fraud and mismanagement by those responsible for managing your affairs post-death. Again, working with an experienced probate lawyer is essential to making sure everything goes smoothly for you and for those you leave behind.
At Yee Law Group, P.C., our probate lawyers are ready to help guide you through the estate planning process so that you can avoid potential scams and create a plan you feel comfortable with; contact us today!