Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ohio Supreme Court Fines Two 'Trust Mill' Companies Over $6 Million

Ohio According to multiple sources, the Supreme Court of Ohio reprimanded two companies for unauthorized practice of law thisWednesday.  The following is a summary of information taken from multiple articles discussing the decision. 

  • American Family Prepaid Legal Corporation, and Heritage Marketing and Insurance Services, Inc., purportedly targeted thousands of senior citizens in Ohio.
  • The Columbus Bar Association accused the companies of operating a "trust mill" between 2003 and 2005.
  • The companies persuaded, or pressured, the elderly Ohio citizens to forego a will and instead purchase a living trust from the companies. 
  • The companies charged approximately $2,000 for their services.
  • In exchange for the fee, the companies offered assistance in a number of legal fields.
  • The Ohio Supreme Court found that most members received only living trust documents, although the companies did provide some other related estate planning instruments.
  • The court found that the companies committed over 3,800 acts of unauthorized practice of law.
  • The court imposed almost $6.4 million in fines against the companies and their co-owners, Jeffrey and Stanley Norman.
  • Additionally, the companies and the co-owners are forever barred from offering similar services in Ohio.  

See AP, $6.4M fine in Ohio for illegal practice of law, Oct. 14, 2009; Martha Neil, Court Fines 2 Cos.  $6.4M for Unauthorized Law Practice, Bans Them From State, ABA Journal, Oct. 14, 2009; James Nash, Companies that duped thousands of Ohio senior citizens fined $6.4 million, Columbia Dispatch, Oct. 14, 2009. 


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