Three estate planning co.'s agree to settlements over use of non-lawyers‏

Nick Rees Jan. 4, 2010, 4:24pm

John Kroger (D)

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline) - Settlements have been announced by Oregon Attorney General John Kroger that require three estate planning companies to pay $18,400 in fees and restitution and prohibits them from using non-lawyers to prepare living trusts.

The settlements with attorney James G. Knollmiller of Mesa, Ariz., Legacy Plans Inc., doing business as The Estate Planning System, and its president Don Deasy of Phoeniz, Ariz., and Consolidated Financial LLC of Grants Pass, Ore., were filed in Coos County Circuit Court.

As a result of the settlements, five Oregon consumers will be fully refunded the $8,650 they had paid for estate planning documents. The Oregon Department of Justice will receive the remaining $9,750.

The estate planning companies admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlements, which follow an Oregon Department of Justice investigation into allegations of non-lawyers taking money for the preparation of living trusts in violation of state law.

The Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section of the Oregon Department of Justice has made it known that it will continue pursuing living trust mills and lawyers who take money for the preparation of living trusts by unsupervised non-lawyers. That action violates Oregon law and, historically, the absence of meaningful legal advice has resulted in poor or unnecessary estate planning choices by seniors. The lack of oversight also allows for the potential loss of assets of unscrupulous persons learn of a senior's assets.

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