When it comes to estate planning for seniors in Washington, a sense of trust is the foundation all partnerships should be based on. The failure of this basic concept was behind a lawsuit filed by Washington’s Attorney General against a Texas-based company for its deceptive practices. Following the lawsuit, a King County Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction for the company, CLA Estate Services and CLA USA, Inc., to immediately halt its conduct.
According to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, the company operated a scheme that targeted Washington seniors with estate-planning services and annuity products that made the company millions of dollars. The lawsuit argues that CLA misled seniors through seminars that did not provide accurate information. Products were sold to seniors that had the potential to lock up assets for years and that could result in large penalties in the case of early withdrawals. These products benefited the company with millions in commissions while burdening consumers with extra costs. The goal of the seminars was not to provide the best information to customers, but to sell them costly products that were highly complicated.
Seniors are often the target of investment scams. These schemes often try to mislead elders into using their savings or retirement accounts to purchase costly products. The Washington State Office of the Attorney General encourages consumers to use the three Cs before buying an investment product: compare, consider and consult. By using caution and by consulting with trusted friends or relatives seniors can avoid mistakes that will be detrimental to the net worth of their estates.