Bryan Cohen Apr. 4, 2013, 7:49pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced settlements Tuesday with four financial planning companies that allegedly targeted senior veterans with schemes related to asset management.

The Kansas-based American Benefits Advocates and Scott Sexton, a Kansas attorney, allegedly worked with three companies in the Northwest to offer advice and planning to senior veterans or veterans' spouses in violation of multiple Washington laws. The three companies were the Spokane-based Financial Concepts, the Mill Creek-based Senior Advisory Services Inc. and the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho-based Equity Financial Freedom, doing business as American Veterans Financial Inc.

The companies marketed estate distribution documents to help veterans and/or their spouses qualify for a U.S. Veterans Administration benefit called Aid and Attendance. The companies allegedly failed to inform the veterans of the risks involved in moving assets to qualify for the benefits, including the loss of Medicaid eligibility.

"Our veterans made great sacrifices for our country-and they deserve our protection from unscrupulous businesspeople who prey on them," Ferguson said.

Under the terms of the consent decrees, Sexton, American Veterans Financial, Senior Advisory Services and Financial Concepts were ordered to pay attorney fees and restitution to victims. Civil penalties were suspended as long as the companies remain in compliance with the agreements.

The companies are also permanently prohibited in the state of Washington from advising people about a will, trust or other estate distribution document, selecting, modifying or completing a will, trust or estate distribution document, agreeing to prepare or gather the information needed to create a will, trust or other state distribution document, and soliciting people or receiving any direct or indirect compensation for services related to marketing estate distribution documents, including wills and trust.

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