Discovering that an individual has been stealing from an estate is a common problem, particularly for people who have substantial assets. Those living in the state of California, are covered by the California Probate Code, which provides statutory bases for pursuing the wrongdoer.
Depending on the circumstances, the penalty can range from requiring the abuser to return the stolen money or assets to more severe punishments, such as double damages, disinheritance of the guilty party, or punitive damages. The facts of the case will determine which of these legal remedies is applicable.
Recovering your losses is dependent on filing promptly, as there are time limits within which charges must be brought. If you suspect that someone has been illegally taking money from your estate, the first step is to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Getting Your Money and Assets Back
Contacting an estate attorney immediately allows them the time to begin proving your case through the process of discovery, including interviewing witnesses and gathering documentation. An estate planning attorney can advise you on the best resolution process for your particular situation.
Informal resolution can be as simple as the wrongdoer returning the money, without any charges being filed. Should informal negotiations fail, your attorney can seek remedy through the court system by filing a formal complaint or petition with the probate court. Going to trial is also an option if the circumstances warrant.
Because the person who has been stealing from an estate is often a family member or a close family friend, most people choose not to file criminal charges. Generally, these matters are handled in civil court.
Keeping Your Estate Secure
Although it may be hard to imagine that someone close to you would be capable of theft, it’s safest to take advantage of secure estate planning solutions that act to prevent such an occurrence from taking place. California estate planning attorney Jeffrey M. Verdon helps his clients take advantage of ultra high net worth estate planning strategies that protect their legacy from preventable losses.