Austin Texas Estate Planning Blog

What Is Inheritance Theft

What Is Inheritance Theft?

February 13, 2023 • | Law Office of Zachary D Kamykowski, PLLC
Receiving an inheritance could provide an unexpected (or anticipated) financial windfall. There’s just one thing you may have to contend with – people attempting to steal what you’ve inherited.

Inheritance theft laws exist to protect heirs and beneficiaries. Inheritance theft is sometimes a real issue for those who inherit money, property, or other assets. If you will receive an inheritance or have received one stolen from you, you must know your legal rights and how to get those assets back.

Yahoo’s recent article “Someone Stole My Inheritance. What Are My Options?” says inheritance theft can take different forms, and some are more obvious than others. Some common examples of inheritance theft or inheritance hijacking include:

  • An executor of a will who steals or attempts to conceal assets from the estate inventory
  • A trustee who diverts assets from a trust for their use or benefit
  • Executors who charge excessive fees for their services
  • Abuse of power of attorney status
  • Use of coercion or undue influence to force a will-maker or trust grantor to change the terms of their will or trust; and
  • Fraud or forgery related to the will or trust document or the destruction of the documents.
Wealth planning masterclass banner

Inheritance theft can also occur on a more personal level. Perhaps you and your sister share caregiving duties for your aging mother. Without your knowledge, your sister can access your mother’s bank accounts and takes out a large sum while your mother still lives. Your mother then names you as the executor of her will. When she dies, you inventory her assets as required. While doing so, you discover the missing funds from her bank accounts. If you and your sister were supposed to have inherited those assets jointly, this could violate state inheritance theft laws.

People who commit inheritance theft may be subject to criminal and civil penalties. A caregiver who steals money from someone’s bank accounts or coerces them into signing over other assets could also be charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime.

The injured heirs or beneficiaries may also pursue a civil claim against someone they believe has stolen their inheritance.

Reference: Yahoo (Jan. 18, 2023) “Someone Stole My Inheritance. What Are My Options?”

Law Office of Zachary D Kamykowski, PLLC

(By Appointment Only)

14425 Falcon Head Blvd
Bldg E-100
Austin, TX 78738

Get Directions
IMS - Estate Planning and Elder Law Practice Growth Advisors
Powered by