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Facing Suit, Alliance for Mature Americans to Resume Sales


LAKE FOREST — An Orange County company says it plans to resume the selling of living trusts and retirement annuities Tuesday after a week-long halt.

Alliance for Mature Americans had sent its sales force home while its lawyers and the state attorney general's office hashed out terms of a court order affecting the company's activities. The company, its owners and numerous affiliates were sued by the state July 18 for fraud in the alleged use of high-pressure scare tactics to sell its products to the elderly.

The company has marketed more than 20,000 living trusts and sold more than $200 million worth of retirement investments since it was started by Stephan and Victoria Adams in 1986.

No date has yet been set for the civil trial, but the court order remains in force until the case is decided. The order requires Alliance to refrain from unethical or illegal activities and notify all of its sales agents of the terms of the injunction.

Alliance also is required to disclose any stake or financial arrangement it has in businesses that are selling retirement investment products.

The order also prohibits Alliance and its affiliates from representing themselves as senior citizens organizations or as organizations dedicated to helping seniors; requires the company to give the state an accounting of its assets; and prohibits the company and its owners from disposing of those assets.

The company has contended the state's suit was prompted by disgruntled lawyers who don't like Alliance's insistence that it can help people establish a living trust without the expense of hiring an attorney.

The suit alleges that Alliance's fees sometimes are higher than what a lawyer might charge. The suit also claims that sales representatives of the Lake Forest company, in advising clients on will and estate planning issues, often step over the line into practicing law without a license.

A living trust is a legal device that enables people to avoid costly and time-consuming court proceedings over the disposition of their assets after they die.

The court order initially was issued Aug. 29. The next day, Alliance told its 85 telemarketing employees to go home until the company could clarify some of the terms of the order. The company also notified its approximately 450 independent sales agents around the country that they should stop selling Alliance products until the order was clarified.

Attorneys for both sides last week argued over language in the order during two hearings in Los Angeles Superior Court.

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