Judge, lawyers offer free session on legal matters
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It isn't often that consumers have an opportunity to receive free legal information from a judge and a panel of lawyers.
But that's what will be offered from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Monroeville Doubletree Hotel/Convention Center at 100 Mall Blvd. in Monroeville.
The subject, "The Truth about Probate and Living Trusts," is the third in a series of clinics presented by the Probate and Trust Law Section of the Allegheny County Bar Association. The clinic, sponsored by a grant from the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, is open to the public but is limited to 250 people. Reservations are required.
Anyone who lives in Allegheny County is welcome, said attorney Christine Kornosky, chairwoman of the probate and trust law section.
Panelists include Common Pleas Senior Judge Frank J. Lucchino of the Orphans Court Division; senior deputy attorney general John Abel of the state Bureau of Consumer Protection; and attorneys Edward S. McKenna of McKenna & Curtin, a downtown law firm; Laura Vassamillet of BNY Mellon; and Thomas E. Crowley of PNC Wealth Management.
Let's pause here for a little necessary legalese.
Probate deals with the administration of an individual's estate and usually involves a will.
A living trust is a legal entity to which an individual's assets can be transferred and managed by a person, which can be an individual or a corporation, such as a bank or a trust company. That individual or corporation, known as a trustee, manages the person's assets by following the instructions contained in a trust document.
In addition to probate and living trusts, the panelists will discuss misinformation that is being circulated about those subjects and advise attendees how to protect themselves against living-trust scams, especially those that target senior citizens.
Con artists, who specialize in sowing confusion and misinformation, revel in charging senior citizens thousands of dollars for advice and documents they may not need.
"Our attorneys see firsthand every day how important it is to get the correct information about probate and living trusts into the hands of our county residents before they make misguided decisions that could negatively affect themselves and their families," Ms. Kornosky said.
State Attorney General Tom Corbett said in a news release that it was important for consumers to understand that planning an estate and choosing investments involves many different legal, financial and personal decisions.
"Consumers need to gather as much information as possible about these offers and look beyond fancy credentials or high-pressure sales pitches," Mr. Corbett said. "Some of these 'consultants' are nothing more than sales agents looking to earn a commission on living trusts or investments that may be of questionable value."
Ms. Kornosky said space for the clinics usually fills up quickly and urged county residents to make their reservations as soon as possible. To make a reservation, call 412-402-6651.
If you cannot attend the clinic but would like to receive a copy of the bar association's pamphlet on "The Truth About Probate and Living Trusts," call the association at 412-261-6161.
An elderly woman who recently fell prey to the "Grandma, I'm in trouble" scam warns other senior citizens to beware of calls from "grandchildren" who want money wired to them immediately to get out of jail, repair their car or pay off a debt of some kind.
The callers, who may have used public records to obtain some information on their "grandparents," have succeeded in bilking thousands of dollars from their victims.
First Published April 29, 2010 12:00 am