Many families lose a significant amount of wealth to inheritance theft and probate fraud. More specifically, there are some people who ruthlessly steal from elderly persons and families. These people commonly use undue influence, fraud, and forgery to steal wealth. Families, heirs, and rightful beneficiaries who act quickly can often stop or reclaim stolen wealth.
Inheritance Theft and Undue Influence
Opportunistic caretakers and family often use undue influence to steal wealth. In other words, caretakers and family around an elderly or vulnerable person can often assert their own ideas or wishes and overcome the wishes of the person. This influence becomes undue when it overpowers the person’s wishes and is especially problematic when the family member or caretaker uses undue influence to benefit themselves.
More specifically, ruthless caretakers and family members commonly use undue influence to add themselves to bank accounts, change insurance and account beneficiaries, and change Will beneficiaries. All actions are fine if it is the person’s wishes, but not if done under undue influence. If discovered prior to the death or incapacity of the vulnerable person, the family should separate the vulnerable person from the undue influencer and ask the person about their true wishes. If discovered after death or incapacity, the family should gather all potential evidence of undue influence.
Inheritance Theft and Fraud
Similarly, many opportunists use fraud to steal money from elderly and vulnerable people. These opportunists use a variety of fraudulent and illegal schemes to steal money and wealth. Common schemes include investment fraud, repair and real estate fraud, and internet/telephone solicitation fraud. For most of these schemes, shining light on the scammers and forcing them to put everything in writing will typically expose the fraud.
Additionally, some caretakers and family members fraudulently trick elderly and vulnerable people to disinherit other family members. These cases typically require multiple family members to shine light on the fraud including family meetings or contacting elder protective services.
Inheritance Theft and Forgery
More brazed opportunists also commonly forge documents when stealing wealth. These documents often include forged Wills, trusts, and deeds. Further, these forged documents are often discovered after the wealth has been stolen and/or after the vulnerable person has passed. After discovery of forged documents, it is important to gather examples of the real signature. Further, it is best to gather documents with real signatures from the same time frame as the forged documents. These cases are often hotly contested and require handwriting experts.