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⭒ New Developments

Lawsuit Against Trust Mills/Annuity Scams AnnouncedNovember 22, 2004

Download the amended complaint (2/15/2005)

On Monday, November 22, 2004 California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) and the Institute on Aging (IOA) held a press conference in San Francisco to announce the filing of a proposed class action along with senior victims represented by former San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne of Renne Sloan Holtzman & Sakai, LLP and Michael Molland of Morgan Lewis, LLP alleging that companies including Estate Preservation Inc, the Gentry Group and AmeriEstate Legal Plan have used “free” living trust seminars to improperly learn about senior citizens’ private financial information.

The lawsuit further alleges that, after procuring the senior’s private financial information, the companies send an insurance agent to the senior’s home and solicits them to purchase annuities, which can have financial devastating consequences for some elders.

The action was filed against living trust companies including Estate Preservation Inc, the Gentry Group and AmeriEstate Legal Plan and insurance companies that market inappropriate investments to seniors including American Equity Investment Life Insurance, and American Investors’ Life Insurance.

Over the past 19 years, CANHR has worked to stop some of these deceptive practices and scams that lead seniors to financial devastation. Almost every day, you?ll find an ad in the paper advertising “Free” living trust or estate planning seminars.

Now, there is nothing wrong per se with living trusts or with annuities.

There is something wrong, however, when they are marketed and sold through misrepresentation and fraudulent information.

There is something wrong when consumers cash in their life savings to buy a financial product that places them in a worse financial position.

This lawsuit is not about living trusts or annuities, both of which can be useful estate planning tools.

Thousands of ethical California estate planning attorneys execute living trusts for their clients every day, just as thousand of ethical insurance agents sell annuities as part of a comprehensive estate plan.

This lawsuit is about deceptive marketing practices and elder fiduciary abuse. It’s about using trust mills to entice vulnerable elders into purchasing financial products that are at best, inappropriate, and at worst, financially devastating.

We hope that others who have been targets of these trust mills and annuity scams will come forward and that the next time elders see an ad that says “free” or “no cost to you,” they will realize it can cost them everything they have.

More information about the lawsuit is available at the following website:

If you or someone you know has been the target of a trust mill or annuity scam, please contact the CANHR office at (800) 474-1116.