Online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

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Mr. Miller has many years of experience in designing and implementing a comprehensive variety of Trusts, Wills, and other estate planning documents, as well as settling estates in the most expedient and appropriate method. Further, he counsels and assists clients on becoming eligible for VA benefits and Medi-Cal.

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VA Pension/Aid & Attendance/Medi-Cal

Mr. Miller has been active in the area of VA Pension and Medi-Cal for well over a decade. He uses various specialized types of Trusts as well as non-trust strategies to gain eligibility for his clients and save the family money.

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Probate & Estate Administration

Mr. Miller has been settling estates (both simple and complex) for well over 40 years. The starting point is always to create a strategy to settle the estate in the most efficient manner possible with a minimum of taxes. Often times the strategy created allows the family to bypass Probate Court proceedings.

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Someone Just Pulled $130k from your equity line of credit!


By merv,

  Filed under: Elder Law, Estate Planning

Dear Mr. Miller: 

Your article on dealing with a water damage claim was excellent.   I hear so much about identity theft, do you have any tips on that? (READ: Dealing with a Water Damage Claim Part 1, Part 2)

Worried Consumer

The Theft Alert
After the Fact Remediation
Prevention
Bank Account Numbers

Dear Worried:

The Theft Alert:  Interesting how life works.  Right after our water damage claim closed out someone tried to hit our home equity line of credit (HELOC) for a $130,000 withdrawal.  I was having lunch one day when I received a call from my bank asking if I had authorized that withdrawal.  I answered “No!” but I wasn’t really listening that much and thought the gentleman said that it was for a transfer of the money to my savings account.  I wasn’t too worried about that as the money was going to be in one account or the other and it would all be straightened out in a day or two.

Then later that day I decided to check my online accounts.  There was a $130,000 debit listed against my HELOC with no corresponding deposit in my savings account.  Now, they had my interest.  So I decided to check further and called the bank.  Turns out I had heard wrong.  The money was to be wire transferred out of the bank to somewhere else.  The bank had put a stop on it after they spoke to me so I didn’t need to worry, but they were still investigating.  Subsequently I found out that the bank had received wire transfer instructions purportedly from me requesting that the money be sent to somewhere in the Ft. Worth, Texas area.  Other than catching connecting flights at the Dallas/Ft.Worth airport that is not a part of the country that I frequent very often–so it wasn’t me.  The bank explained that the would-be thief had the HELOC account number, my phone numbers and address on the wire instructions.  As to the last two pieces of information, that is readily available on a simple internet search for my name, assuming we are talking about my business contact information. If it was my cell phone number or home address that would take a bit more research.  I won’t know which until the investigation is completed.

After the Fact Remediation:  My understanding is that the bank turned this over to the FBI but I have not yet been contacted by law enforcement. Since no one really knows how much information that thief has on me, the bank suggested that I change my passwords for my online banking, email, etc.  The bank, meanwhile was in the process of changing all of my account numbers.

Prevention:  So what can you do?  According to every article I read, first and foremost, create strong passwords (you know, something other than “password,” or “1234” or your birthdate) and have a different one for each online account that you have.  Maybe you don’t need a different one for those that you don’t care that much if they get hacked (the alumni association, the garden club, etc) but definitely different ones for each financial institution (securities, bank accounts, credit card, etc).  Then, if one institution has its records hacked (and that seemingly happens to some retailer, credit agency, etc. nearly every month) it doesn’t expose your accounts at other institutions.  Of course, the big objection to all of this is that it makes life more complex and just how many passwords can a person remember.  You could simply write them down on a piece of paper at your desk.  That’s better than nothing.  But if you want to be really good, well, that is where password vaults come in.  Roboform, Dashlane, 1Password to name a few.  Often times they are free with a paid version available with more features.  Often available to you on your desktop, tablet, and phone.  Most will generate a strong password for you with letters, numbers, and symbols.

Bank Account Numbers:  As to the bank account numbers I’m not sure how important that is.  After all, everyone who has received a check from me has the account number and bank routing number as it is prominently displayed on the check.  I always hear don’t give out those numbers.  In fact, as I was writing this article my wife inquired whether she should should send that information by text message to our son so he could deposit some money he owed her in her account.  We both decided to wait until we see him in a few days.  But I still am unsure why that is such a danger.  The HELOC, well that’s different.  I don’t write checks to anyone from that account so the numbers are not public.  So where this scumbag obtained those numbers is a bit of a mystery, although I think I know and will be happy to share that with the FBI when, and if, they contact me.

If we can assist you in our areas of specialization, Estate Planning, Estate Administration/Settlement, or VA and Medi-Cal Benefits, please feel free to call.

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About Living Trusts

About Living Trusts is hosted by the Law Offices of Merwyn J. Miller, as your online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Merwyn J. Miller, J.D.

  • Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
  • Co-Author of legal text book and of “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home
  • Teacher of law courses at public and private colleges
  • Continuing Education Instructor for attorneys
  • Columnist for largest regional newspaper in San Diego County and professional journals for 15 years, Contributing author to the book “In Your Service: The Veteran’s Friend”
  • Masters Degree in Financial Services - Estate Planning
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