Client Alert

Strategic Planning Can Prevent Inheritance Theft

Inheritance theft can occur right under family members’ noses and, sometimes, the thieves will even get away with it. Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your unsuspecting heirs and prevent a person with ill intentions from succeeding in their thievery.

First, you must know what inheritance theft looks to prevent it from happening to your own estate.

Types Of Inheritance Theft

The larger one’s estate is, the more motive a person will have to try and divert the inheritance. Yet, it is not always easy to identify when inheritance theft has or is occurring. There are various tactics inheritance thieves will use to squander the estate.

Inheritance theft can occur when a person:

• Claims money they borrowed from a relative prior to their death was a gift
• Persuades a relative to change their estate plan after making false statements about heirs
• Creates a fraudulent estate plan or destroys the original one
• Transfers estate assets into personal accounts
• Now that you know the forms inheritance theft can take, how can you keep your estate from becoming fair game to a thief?

Be Proactive In Prevention

Of course, we want to believe that our heirs and family members would never steal from our estates. However, greed and desperation can lead even your closest loved ones to commit unimaginable acts. It is a good idea to take extra precautions to prepare for these “what-if” scenarios.

You can protect your heirs from inheritance theft by:

Creating a will or trust – Explicitly list the intended beneficiaries of your estate in a properly-executed estate plan

Appointing two executors – Designate two executors, such as a family member and professional who is not a relative

Naming a financial power of attorney – Decide who will control your finances if you become incapacitated

Openly discussing the plan – Ensure every family member knows what your wishes are and what is in your plan

Including a disclosure requirement – Require your executors to disclose the estate’s financial matters such as transfers, expenses and the assets

Speaking with an estate planning attorney who is experienced in managing high-asset estates is critical to preventing theft. Do not put your estate and honest heirs at risk by waiting to have the conversation.

Posted in Client Alert, Tips (How & Why).