From a public-spirited attorney in Washington, Peter Fels, who passes on this warning from a Spokane attorney, Dick Sayre. No reason to think it stops North of the Columbia River.
Folks, the Attorney General is accepting complaints about VA scams which are spreading over Washington like a small plague. They are working with the VA, who is not at all amused by these goings on. Of particular interest to the AG are non lawyers selling insurance products and/or irrevocable trusts to disabled seniors with a purpose of shielding assets from VA so as to gain acceptance for Aid and Attendance benefits, but lawyers here and in other states taking part in the scams are also a target of their investigations.
As most of you know, VA does not have a lookback or penalty for gifting assets, making this what appears to be an easy sale for the annuity sellers, who charge for the 'service' and get commissions from the trusts and annuities. That will likely change as a consequence of this practice.
As many of you know, clients are being talked into making gifts to children, who then either put the funds into an irrevocable trust or buy an annuity 'to keep the funds safe'. They then apply for Aid and Attendance benefits but, of course, when they later need Medicaid, they are faced with a huge penalty period and extended ineligibility. DSHS will deny eligibility or deem assets to be in a constructive trust; however, often the client cannot get them back - it's the worst of all worlds.
I have dealt with a number of these cases, and everyone ended badly for the clients. Here in Spokane, the VA experts are approaching AFH's and nursing homes for presentations, and are being given a warm welcome given that the money goes to the facility. When the next one of these goes bad, I'll be visiting with some of the litigators on this list about the forseeability of injury when the facility sets these creeps up as experts for financial gain.
The agents pass themselves off as VA experts and have business entities with snappy titles. They make huge profits for advice and healthy commissions from crappy annuities sold to desperate people without any warning of the consequences of this approach. As most of you also know, the VA helps people apply for A&A without cost.
If you have complaints, please direct them to Brooks Clemmons or file a complaint as set out below. Here is contact information for Brooks:
firstname.lastname@example.org and (509) 456-3282 (direct line)
It would be helpful to the AG if people filed a complaint online at
www.atg.wa.gov as those complaints go straight into their bank of complaints and are coordinated with similar complaints. The AG would like to find out if there are persons or families that have been approached or have been taken in as a consequence of these unethical and fraudulent practices.
In Brooks words: It is our fervent desire to stop this practice and stop others from being harmed.
I have filed several complaints, and I know others have as well. I've also created some havoc with annuity companies, but most won't budge absent litigation. Meanwhile, the client is without services or money. It is now reaching epidemic levels, and I ask you all to refer cases to the AG so we can prevent more people from being irreparably harmed.
Sayre & Sayre, PS