Inheritance theft is defined as the taking of someone else’s inheritance without their knowledge or permission. Sadly, inheritance theft is a problem that many people face. As the cost of living increases and the size of inheritances shrinks, more and more people are looking for ways to steal from their loved ones.
If you think you have been a victim of inheritance theft, it is important to speak to a lawyer at Kazi Law Firm as soon as possible. We will be able to help you gather evidence and build a case against the person who stole from you. It is also important to take action quickly, as there may be time limits on how long you have to file a claim.
Conversely, if you have assets and are worried about future inheritance theft, speak to us. We can also help you in this regard.
Common Examples of Inheritance Theft
Inheritance theft can be a complicated crime to prosecute because it often happens behind closed doors, and there may not be any physical evidence. However, by knowing how it happens, you can better protect yourself and your loved ones from this type of crime.
Forgery is a type of inheritance theft where someone illegally changes or creates a will to claim an inheritance to which they are not entitled. This can be done by changing the date on a will, adding or deleting beneficiaries, or even creating a fake will entirely. This can be done to gain access to an inheritance that rightfully belongs to someone else.
Destroying Estate Planning Documents
Destroying estate planning documents is another type of inheritance theft. For example, you may have willed all of your assets to your first son. But, say, for example, your second son destroyed the estate planning documents. In this instance, they are taking away the opportunity for their heirs to receive their rightful inheritance. This is because, without estate planning documents, they will be forced to rely on the state laws of intestacy, which may not reflect your wishes and will most likely leave the rightful heirs with less money or property than they were expecting to receive.
Coercion of the Testator
A testator is a person who makes a will, and coercion is the act of using force or intimidation to obtain something from someone. Coercion of the testator is a type of inheritance theft because it takes advantage of a testator to get them to sign over their assets. This type of fraud is often carried out by people who are close to the testator, such as family members or caretakers. They might use the fact that the testator is old or weak in some other way to force them to do what they want.
There are many ways that a coercer can take advantage of a testator. For example, they may threaten to harm the testator or their loved ones if they don’t sign over their assets. They may also use emotional manipulation, such as telling the testator that others are not worthy of their inheritance and that signing it over to a “select few” would be best for everyone. This type of coercion is sometimes found in blended families.
Stealing Inheritance Money or Property
It is said that stealing is a crime of opportunity. When it comes to the physical stealing of inheritance money or property, this could not be more true. This type of theft can be committed by anyone, from a family member to a complete stranger. There are many ways in which someone can commit this type of inheritance theft. For example, they may intercept checks or other funds that are meant to be inherited. In some cases, thieves may even go so far as to kidnap the person who stands to inherit in order to extort money from them. More common, however, is stealing furniture and other movables from the deceased’s estate and selling them.
Bribing an Executor of the Will
The executor is the person responsible for carrying out the deceased person’s wishes as stated in the will. Another type of inheritance theft is when someone tries to bribe an executor of a will. This can be a devastating loss for the rightful heirs, and it is important to be aware of this type of theft so that you can protect your inheritance.
This type of theft can happen in several ways, but the most common is when someone offers the executor a sum of money in exchange for changing the distribution of assets in the will. This can be a very tempting offer for an executor who is struggling financially.
Preventing Inheritance Theft in Texas
It is a sad fact, but inheritance theft is becoming more and more common. In Texas, we see it happen all too often. No worries, though, as there are a few things you can do to help prevent it from happening to you.
First, appoint a reliable person to act as your trustee or executor. Second, you may also give copies of your will and trust paperwork to at least one other heir, if not all of them, to make sure that everyone understands and respects your wishes. If sharing your estate plan with others makes you uneasy, you have an estate attorney to act as a watchdog. Even better, work with an institutional executor (such as an attorney) and not an individual.
Third, keep good records of all your assets and where they are located. This will make it easier for your loved ones to track down your belongings if something happens to you.
Finally, speak with us. We are experienced in estate planning, and we know exactly what to do to protect your heir’s inheritance. We will help you implement all the proper precautions to ensure that your loved ones receive the inheritance you intended.