Inheritance Theft: Avoid Being a Victim
Inheritance theft is when someone takes money or property that they are not supposed to inherit. This can be done through fraud or deception, and it is considered to be civil theft or larceny; both serious crimes.
Often, the person who commits inheritance theft will try to keep the inheritance from the rightful heir, or they will try to use the money or property for their own benefit. It can also happen when someone simply takes control of the inheritance before the rightful heir has a chance to claim it.
Methods Used to Steal an Inheritance
Methods used to steal an inheritance can vary, but often include:
- Forging a will after the testator has died: When a will is forged, someone other than the testator signs it with the intent to fraudulently inherit from the estate.
- Stealing some property from the estate after the testator has died: Theft of physical property from an estate occurs when someone takes something that belongs to the estate after the testator has died. This can be anything from money to furniture to jewelry. To commit this type of theft, the thief must have access to the property and most likely would be a close family member or a friend of the testator.
- Coercing the deceased to change their will shortly before they die: When a person is coerced into changing their will shortly before they die, this is known as duress. Duress can be defined as the use of threats or force to persuade someone to do something they do not want to do. In the context of wills, duress can occur when a person is forced to make changes to their will under the threat of violence or other harm.
- Bribing an executor of the will: When someone wants to bribe an executor of a will, they are essentially trying to buy their way into the will. This can be done in a few ways- by offering the executor money, a gift, or some other type of valuable item. Generally, this is done in order to get the executor to change the will so that the person making the bribe is left with more money or property than they would have received if the will were left unchanged. Sometimes, it is also possible that it is the executor of the will that knowingly decides to steal some of the inheritance for their personal gain.
- Undocumented loans: This can happen when the deceased had left behind a loan to a family member or friend, and the loan is not properly documented in the will. In this case, the friend or family member may claim that the money was a gift, not a loan, in order to avoid having to repay it.
Protecting Your Estate
It is not only important to be aware of the possibility of inheritance theft, but it is also important to take precautions to avoid becoming a victim. The best way to take such a precaution and to protect your estate from inheritance theft is to contact an experienced estate planning attorney. This attorney will be able to create a plan that will protect your assets and ensure that they are passed down to the correct people.
By contacting and hiring the services of a Florida attorney at The SG Law Firm, you can rest assured that your wishes will be upheld to the last detail. You may contact us right away to get started.