Probate fraud is unethical, unlawful behavior that often occurs when someone dies and leaves assets. Unfortunately, probate fraud occurs more than you probably think. When an individual passes away leaving money, investments or property, a probate process begins, and probate law follows. This process is initiated by the executor of the estate (also known as the personal representative), who is responsible for handling all final affairs for the deceased individual and ensuring that all inheritance goes where it’s supposed to go. However, this kind of responsibility doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
Many con artists see this period as an opportunity to take advantage of others to take their money, property or an entire probate embezzlement. In this article, we will explore 5 ways you protect yourself against probate fraud. To make this article easily digestible, I recommend having an idea of how authentic wills look like by having a look at this last will and testament example. This will help you in differentiating between authentic and fraudulent wills.
1. Keep Track of Important Documents
As frauds about probate law are based on false information, the first step to protecting yourself is to keep track of important documents. You might consider scanning copies of the deceased’s birth certificate, marriage certificate, and social security card. You can also include other important documents, like car titles, any powers of attorney that may be in effect, and wills. You should also keep track of any account or login information for any online charges the deceased may have had. Talk with an estate or probate lawyer if you have questions about what documents you should keep track of. They can let you know precisely what you need to keep track of. Ensure that only you and a loved one that you trust beyond any doubts know where these documents are kept. If necessary, you can have a safe box in a bank or other companies that offer safes and keep the documents there. This will ensure that there will be no theft of these documents therefore minimizing chances of fabrication.
2. Hire a Professional to Handle Your Assets
If you’ve been named as an heir to an estate, you may be tempted to take on the responsibility of handling the assets yourself. However, unless you’re an expert in this field, it’s often better to hire a professional to manage these assets. If you’ve been named as the executor of an estate, you may be tempted to take on the responsibility of handling the assets yourself. However, unless you’re an expert in this field, it’s often better to hire a professional to manage these assets for you. That way, you don’t have to worry about making any mistakes and can ensure everything is handled correctly. If you’re unsure who would be the best person to hire for this task, talk to an estate or probate lawyer. They can tell you what professional would be best for the job and help you hire them. Conduct due diligence on the person before you decide to hire them even if they come recommended by people you know and trust.
3. Don’t Be Overly Confident in Anyone
Even if you hire a professional to handle the assets of an estate for you, you don’t want to be overly confident in them. You should always track their actions and ensure everything is handled correctly. If you notice anything fishy, talk to the professional you hired and let them know what you observed. They may have a valid explanation and may also be able to prevent this behavior in the future. If you’re unsure who would be the best person to hire for this task, talk to an estate or probate lawyer. They can tell you what professional would be best for the job and help you hire them. You can also read here for more tips on fraud awareness.
4. Watch Out for Strangers Bearing Gifts
If you’ve been named as an heir to an estate, you may be approached by people who claim to know the deceased individual. Sometimes, these people will offer to help you with the process of getting your inheritance or will offer to collect the assets for you. However, it would be best to be very careful about who you trust in this situation as some of these people may be interested in the inheritance. You can’t be sure that these people know what they’re doing, so if you accept their help, you could lose your inheritance or have the con artists collect your inheritance and disappear with it. If someone approaches you claiming to know the deceased individual, don’t accept their help. Instead, contact the estate executor and let them know about the person coming to you. The executor/executors will be able to let you know if the person is legit or if they’re likely con artists.
5. Ask Questions and Run Background Checks
Finally, make sure that you ask questions and run background checks on anyone giving you advice in this situation. If you have doubts about someone’s recommendation, talk to an estate or probate lawyer to get clarification. They can let you know if the advice you’re getting is valid or if it’s something you should avoid. They can also inform you about anyone you’re communicating with online and help you run a background check to ensure they’re trustworthy. Make sure anyone you get advice from is licensed to provide legal advice. You should also do a background check on anyone you’re planning on hiring to handle an estate or probate proceeding for you. These are great ways for probate fraud prevention. Visit this website for answers on questions regarding probate law.
Probate fraud is unethical, unlawful behavior that often occurs when someone dies and leaves assets. Protecting yourself against probate fraud can be challenging, especially when you don’t know what to look out for. Fortunately, you can take a few steps to reduce your risk. You can keep track of essential documents, hire a professional to handle your assets, don’t be overly confident in anyone, ask questions, and run background checks on anyone giving you advice in this situation. This article has explained in detail under the steps on what you can do to ensure you know about probate fraud prevention.