For press inquiries or to schedule an interview with the Attorney General please contact:
503-378-6002 or Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us
About Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the filing of a second court action against an independent insurance agent who unlawfully practiced law by selling and preparing living trusts and ignored prior orders to cease and desist. Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed in Clackamas County Circuit Court is Kenneth A. Gebarowski of Gresham. "It is extremely important that older Oregonians recognize that only skilled attorneys with estate planning expertise are able to advise them on whether to purchase living trusts," Myers said. "Non-lawyer salespersons who practice law without a license can cause seniors to be left with a trust that may be inappropriate, poorly done or not properly funded." In January 1999, a settlement agreement between Gebarowski and the Oregon Department of Justice filed in Multnomah County required him to stop preparing and selling living trusts without being licensed to practice law. Several years earlier, the respondent agreed to a "cease and desist" order with the Oregon State Bar for illegally practicing law. Department of Justice and state Corporate Securities investigators recently discovered that Gebarowski not only was fraudulently selling living trusts but also had provided client information to unlicensed security salespersons who sold his customers risky investments. Under this agreement, Gebarowski is immediately required to stop selling living trusts and to provide restitution to any client requesting a refund. The respondent also must not practice law without a license, must obey all securities and insurance laws and regulations, and is prohibited from providing client information to other salespersons. Gebarowski paid Justice $2,450 for its consumer protection and education fund. Attorney General Myers suggests the following when considering the purchase of a living trust:
Know how living trusts work. A living trust lets the consumer designate a trustee with financial expertise to manage assets and allow for a smooth transition of property when death occurs. Long waiting periods might be avoided but a living trust can't eliminate tax liability and there's no guarantee the trust won't be legally challenged.
Do not purchase a living trust from a salesperson going door-to-door or "hawking" trust services over the phone, on television or the radio, through the mail or from a booth at a products or services fair. Living trusts should be recommended and prepared by an attorney.
Ask friends for referrals and shop around. Call at least three lawyers with backgrounds in estate planning. Ask for references and written estimates concerning costs. Remember neither the lowest or highest priced services automatically mean the best value.
Call the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service for names of estate planning lawyers in Oregon at (503) 684-3763 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-800-452-7636.
Call Tel-Law, the Oregon State Bar's legal tape library, at (503) 620-3000 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-800-452-4776. Ask for tape 803 on trusts. Written information on living trusts also is available from the Oregon State Bar.
Call the Attorney General's consumer hotline and the Oregon State Bar to check on complaints against lawyers.
Consumers wanting information on consumer issues may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. The Department of Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
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