QUESTION: Every day I seem to have a mailbox full of “invitations” to free seminars on living trusts and financial planning. I’m not really sure I need to be concerned with such topics, but if I do, would these seminars provide me with the information I need?
ANSWER: This is an excellent question and one I would like more seniors to inquire about before they sign up for one of these “free” presentations. Will attending such a seminar provide you with the information and services you need? The answer may be yes—but more likely no.
These community seminars address the issue of estate planning in a general manner. The right strategies needed for an individual to make proper decisions must be based on that individual’s unique circumstances. What might be the right action for your neighbor will more likely not make sense for your particular situation.
Many times the sponsors of this type of seminar have a product or service to sell and while they do provide some useful general information they are also promoting the purchase of their specific product or service.
The subject of estate planning is very complex and unfortunately this complexity provides a window of opportunity for scam artists to make an entrance into the field of financial planning seminars. Not all seminars are presented by scam artists, but some are, and you need to protect yourself. You need to be very careful about what information you offer about yourself and carefully read and fully understand anything that you sign.
Before you sign any papers to create a will or trust or to invest money explore all your options with an experienced attorney or financial advisor of your choice. By that I mean you initiate the contact with the provider instead of dealing with a salesperson who contacted you or offered a free lunch seminar.
Avoid high-pressure sales tactics either by phone, door-to-door or seminar salespersons. If a sales person gives the impression that a well-known organization is endorsing the product or service make sure to check with that organization before committing yourself.
Do some homework on your own. Learn the differences between wills and trusts. Investigate how probate works. Understand the pros and cons of different types of investing.
Remember it has taken you years of hard work to accumulate your assets—do take time in deciding how to handle your estate planning. Nothing should be done if being pressured and it is always best to discuss your options with someone you trust.
Remember there is no such thing as a free lunch. If you do decide to attend such a meeting do two things: sit on your hands and keep your mouth shut. By this I mean by sitting on your hands you won’t sign anything and by keeping your mouth shut you won’t reveal any personal information.
SUNDAY –October 20 – 3:00 to 4:30 pm –Music Comes Alive presents “Kiki Ebsen presenting Musical Memories of Buddy Ebsen – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $7.00.
FRIDAY – October 25 – 9:00 am to 3:00 pm – “Arts & Crafts Fair – at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley – Admission free – for more information call (805) 583-6363.
SATURDAY – October 26 – 8:00 to 11:00 am – “All You Can Eat Pancake Breakfast” – at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley. Tickets are $5.00 and available at the center.
NOW OPEN – – – The CSVP Boutique located inside the Goebel Adult Community Center opened a beautiful new shop after undergoing renovation for several months. Shop for handmade blankets, baby clothes, aprons and other unique items. Do not miss out on their 50 cent greeting cards. Come visit – open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. 100% of the proceeds support CSVP programs.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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