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Protecting Your Loved Ones’ Assets

  • 3 min read

Probate fraud has become an increasingly distressing scenario that demands our attention. We receive countless calls on our investigative side from concerned relatives, heirs, and beneficiaries who suspect foul play in the distribution of a deceased person’s assets, be it real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, or other valuables. The unsettling truth is that someone may be concealing or removing these assets, leaving rightful heirs puzzled and shortchanged. 


The ease with which this deception occurs is truly disheartening. Let’s consider an example: if four heirs are set to receive an equal share of a $100,000 asset, each would receive $25,000. However, if one heir manages to extract and keep the asset hidden, they gain an extra $75,000 for themselves, disrupting the intended distribution. The issue becomes more complex when certain family members possess more intimate knowledge of the deceased’s finances and personal belongings, giving them an unfair advantage. Often, other family members remain unaware of these hidden assets. 


Compounding the problem is the substantial appreciation of assets over the years. Previously, a $100,000 asset was considered significant, but today, it can be just a fraction of an estate’s value. Seizing such an asset and diverting it for personal gain has become tempting for some individuals. They employ various methods, such as transferring property through a quitclaim deed, selling vehicles on platforms like Craigslist, or swiftly closing bank accounts and cashing out the funds in a cashier’s check before an asset search can be initiated. While they benefit financially, they perpetuate two tragic actions: not only do they cheat other rightful heirs of their due share, but they also deceive and defraud their own close relatives. It’s a heartbreaking betrayal that dishonors the wishes of the deceased, who intended equal distribution among loved ones. 

Probate fraud is a grave concern, and our agency has witnessed a significant increase in such cases over the past few years. To safeguard your family’s interests and preserve the integrity of the estate, we offer essential steps to take if you find yourself in this unsettling situation. Whether a family member has recently passed away or is nearing the end of their journey in hospice or a nursing home, it’s crucial to proactively identify all the assets involved. By doing so, you can monitor any suspicious movements or potential discrepancies. Transparency is key, so openly communicate with other family members and the executor, making them aware that you are closely monitoring the process. 

Request copies of pertinent documents, inquire about life insurance policies, and investigate any recent asset transactions. Diplomacy and sensitivity are crucial, as you balance your actions with maintaining harmonious relationships. Consider hiring your own attorney to represent your interests within the probate case, ensuring that all parties involved adhere to proper protocols and legal obligations. It’s essential to tread carefully while asserting your rights and preserving the integrity of the distribution process. 

If you find yourself closely connected to a recently deceased individual, it is imperative to gain a comprehensive understanding of the assets involved and ensure their rightful dispersion. Protect your family’s inheritance, respect the wishes of your loved ones, and uphold the principles of fairness and justice within the probate process.

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