Often times, folks will tell us they aren’t sure it is a good idea to have documents like their living trust or will online. While this worry is legitimate, the unfortunate truth is, that horse is out of the barn.
Anytime you opened an account in the name of your trust, that trust, or the pertinent information to it, was uploaded somewhere. Anytime your lawyer emailed these documents, they were exposed to a theft. Anytime someone looks at the county recorder, they can see the name of the trust that owns your home. The days of data privacy have long ago left us.
What becomes important, therefore, is creating the authentic and indisputable version of your documents. There is legitimate concern to having anything online these days. But the reality is, this information has already been out there, given to the very group of individuals who are the biggest perpetrators of financial crimes.
Back in 2009, one of America’s largest insurance companies began a survey to find out how bad the problems with elder financial abuse had become. Was the growing concern only scare tactics on TV news? Or were more and more older Americans being subjected to scams, rip-offs, and cons?
The data on these crimes can be hard to pin down. Because the cases are embarrassing for the victim, difficult to prove for a D.A., and no single government agency tracks what many believe is a severely underreported crime, the insurance company felt that by clearly demonstrating that there is a problem, their agents could sell folks products to “protect” against these crimes.
Their initial findings showed one in three Americans had been a victim of a financial abuse of some kind. That was a shocking discovery! Furthermore, the study illustrated that one in five of those victims reported being taken advantage of by someone in the financial industry!
It takes a certain level of knowledge to forge a trust amendment and convince a bank or brokerage firm to believe a fraudulent document. That knowledge is acquired by default as a financial advisor, insurance salesperson, attorney, or CPA. It is the knowledge of the forms, understanding of bureaucracy, and knowing which words to say and not to say. Opening and closing accounts is part of the job.
The vast majority of all these professionals would never dream of leveraging this knowledge to defraud their clients. Sadly, some do abuse their position of trust.
Part of the problem with trusts and wills is they do not have a ‘master copy’ on any registry. Banks, insurance companies, and brokerages have no way to verify they are dealing with a legitimate document when opening or servicing accounts. A malevolent person with the right knowledge set is able to exploit the system, as it exists today.
This problem is eliminated after someone registers their documents with DARCI. The possibility of any professional taking your name, social security number, address, account numbers, and trust info and using it nefariously, disappears. And now, any financial institution can check with the DARCI registry to validate documents like trustee changes or amendments changing powers. They can now ascertain exactly who has the power to act on your accounts. They can validate documents when they could not before.
You won’t find a lot of bad actors among financial professionals. But they do exist. Remove the possibility of anyone with knowledge of your trust from harming you. Don’t fear having your documents online. Rather, establish, for the first time, the authentic copy of your document to protect against forgeries and fraud. Illuminote’s DARCI registry system means that someone who has access to your private and personal data via a professional relationship can no longer use that information to defraud you.