A common step of estate planning can involve transferring title of a client’s home, especially if they created a Revocable Living Trust. When our law firm prepares a deed for a client to retitle their home into their trust, we send the deed to get recorded in the land records. While recording a deed is a necessity, a potential downside is that information then becomes public record and can be found on the Maryland Land Records website.
One of the most common scams is that after a deed is recorded the client will receive a very official looking letter in the mail. The solicitation will instruct the homeowner to pay a fee, usually around $85, to receive a copy of their deed. This letter is a scam, however it is not overtly suspicious. One thing to look out for is that it is often coming from another state.
You do not need to pay anyone to get a copy of your deed. In fact, your original deed should be mailed back to you once it is recorded in the land records. Usually, this scam is quicker at sending out their letters than the courthouse is at returning recorded deeds. Estate planning should not be something that induces anxiety for any scams. We can certainly advise clients when something like this happens to them.
Additionally, the estate planning documents themselves may safeguard against fraud and scams, particularly in the event of someone’s diminished capacity. For example, if you set up a Revocable Living Trust and Financial Power of Attorney, these documents allow someone else to manage your financial affairs if needed. The result of this can be that if someone has diminished capacity and may be susceptible to financial abuse, exploitation, or fraud, the trustee or agent can step in and take care of finances. They can handle tasks such as, cancelling credit cards, issuing stop payments on checks and removing access entirely.
If you have any concerns about falling victim to an estate planning scam, please contact us today. We are here to guide you through this important legal process.