In the intricate landscape of familial affairs, a disturbing trend is on the rise—inheritance theft. This subtle yet pervasive form of fraud, also known as probate fraud, death fraud, or family fraud, is becoming the fastest-growing menace in our investigative agency. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what inheritance theft entails, how it transpires, and the crucial steps to safeguard your rightful assets.
Understanding Inheritance Theft
In simple terms, inheritance theft occurs when a family member takes advantage of the death of another, typically an older relative like a grandfather or great-grandfather. As the deceased individual’s assets, including houses, bank accounts, and vehicles, enter the distribution process among family members, some relatives may attempt to seize more than their rightful share. This could involve siphoning money from bank accounts, transferring vehicles, or even deeding properties to themselves.
The Deceptive Tactics Employed
In cases of inheritance theft, deceptive tactics often come into play. Relatives may attempt to hide assets by concealing information or outright denying ownership of certain properties, especially if a family member lives far away or is not actively involved in the immediate handling of the estate. Some individuals may even grab assets before the probate process, further complicating the rightful distribution.
Investigating Probate Fraud: Unraveling the Scheme
Detecting and investigating probate fraud requires a strategic approach. The initial step involves a thorough asset search and forensic analysis that delves into the flow of assets. This meticulous examination aims to identify any fraudulent conveyances—improper transfers of assets that occur around the time of the individual’s death.
The Role of Executors and Potential Criminal Offenses
If a family member appointed as the executor of the estate engages in improper activities during the probate process, it goes beyond mere inheritance theft—it becomes a potential criminal offense. Executors, if found guilty of wrongful actions, may face serious legal consequences. This distinction underscores the importance of scrutinizing the actions of executors during probate proceedings.
Safeguarding Your Assets: A Proactive Approach
For those who suspect or have fallen victim to inheritance theft, taking a proactive approach is paramount. Begin by compiling a comprehensive inventory of the deceased individual’s assets. Don’t make assumptions—dig deep into bank accounts, insurance policies, investments, and other potential hidden assets. Seeking legal advice and involving an attorney can provide valuable guidance through this process.
Unveiling the Truth: The Importance of Asset Searches
Asset searches and forensics play a pivotal role in uncovering the truth behind inheritance theft. By thoroughly examining the numbers and scrutinizing asset transfers, you can not only reclaim wrongfully seized assets but also petition the court for penalties against the guilty party. This may include obtaining a larger share of assets rightfully due to you or seeking reimbursement for legal costs incurred during the investigation.
A Matter of Principle
Inheritance theft is not just about financial losses; it’s a matter of principle. Whether you believe the sum involved is significant or not, uncovering dishonest actions by family members can impact your future relationship with them. Don’t let inheritance theft go unnoticed—take proactive steps to protect your assets, seek legal advice when needed, and ensure a fair distribution of wealth in the face of loss.