Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has filed a lawsuit against a Minnesota firm that she contends fraudulently sold living trusts to senior citizens.
Swanson said Heritage Partners treated clients to dinners at local steakhouses and then sold them the documents, usually for more than $2,000 each. She said Heritage has sold more than 500 trusts and estate plans all across the state for more than $1 million.
Although the company's representatives purported to be specialists in estate planning, Swanson said they were insurance agents who pressured their clients to buy high-priced annuities.
"The tragedy here is that these consumers bought these trusts to give them peace of mind and security," Swanson said. "But as we sit here, given the situation, people have less security and peace of mind today."
In a lawsuit filed this week in Hennepin County District Court, Swanson alleges the man who drafted the documents is not a licensed attorney, a violation of state law. She plans to ask a judge to stop Heritage Partners from making future sales.
Swanson also is seeking restitution for the clients, many of whom are senior citizens.
They include Penny Pietila of White Bear Lake, who said she was disheartened by the experience.
"I just feel numb," Pietila said. "Most of the people in my life have been consistent with trust. So it was a real shock."
In a statement, Heritage Partners officials said the company has cooperated with the attorney general's investigation and is reviewing the complaint.