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What Can You Do If Someone Steals Your Inheritance?

What Can You Do If Someone Steals Your Inheritance

Inheritance theft can take several forms, some more obvious than others. For example, this theft includes an executor of a last will and testament who steals or attempts to hide assets from the estate inventory and the use of coercion or undue influence to force a will-maker or trust grantor to change the terms of their last will or trust.

Yahoo’s recent article, “Someone Stole My Inheritance. What Are My Options,?” explains that state inheritance theft laws typically cover four distinct aspects:

  • The person who’s committed the inheritance theft
  • When the theft occurred
  • The items stolen; and
  • The circumstances in which the theft occurred

Regarding the “how”, it’s important to remember that inheritance theft can take many different forms. One of the most common examples involves elder financial abuse. This is when a person takes advantage of a senior’s weakened physical or mental state to steal from them. It’s something to be aware of, if you have aging parents and someone else is their primary caregiver.

If you think someone has stolen your inheritance, review the inheritance theft laws in your state. Again, each state has different guidelines regarding:

  • What constitutes inheritance theft;
  • Who has the ability or “standing” to bring a civil claim or file a criminal complaint as to a stolen inheritance;
  • The legal grounds for successfully pursuing an inheritance theft claim; and
  • The penalties and remedies for inheritance theft.

Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney regarding whether you have standing and grounds to file a claim for inheritance theft. Your attorney may advise you to take specific steps to develop a case, such as taking an inventory of the estate’s assets, reviewing the estate documents for signs of fraud or forgery and verifying the validity of will or trust documents.

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