Hiding Assets For Deceased Relatives

  • June 19, 2024
  • 3 min read

Man, we’re seeing so many cases of probate fraud where people are stealing money from their own families. And what usually happens is even prior to an older person in a family dying, some of the family members will start moving assets around. They’ll start concealing money, they’ll start quit claiming property deeds, they’ll start hiding vehicles. Sometimes they’ll take income away, change life insurance.

Preemptive Actions and Documentation
We had a case last week where we were talking to a client where the other members of the family were secretly going to this person in a nursing home and having them sign over documents. So you want to be aware of all this. And if you think it’s happening, you want to document everything. You want to investigate records, you want to get copies of all the prior insurance policies, wills, trusts, deeds to properties. You want to get good information on bank accounts. If there’s an executor of the estate, you want to get regular reporting from that executor. You want them to report at least once a month on what the status of the estate is, what the assets are, how they’re being distributed, what the executor’s compensation is, what that person is taking out.

Verification of Documents
If there’s any changes to a will or changes to documents, you want all of those to be verified so you’re not just taking somebody’s word for it but also verify the document itself. We’ve seen cases where a signature was supposedly notarized, but the notary wasn’t even in the same location where the document was supposed to be signed. The notary was in Georgia and the person was in Texas. It doesn’t make any sense. And also verify with the notary. Some people will forge a notary stamp or take a notary stamp from another document, cut and paste it onto a current document.

Importance of Monitoring Asset Diversion
The most important thing is if there is a case where money is being diverted within a family, could be a divorce case, could be a child support case, could be an executorship or conservatorship where somebody’s been put into care because they can’t take care of themselves—think Britney Spears—and money is being diverted, you want to document everything and you want somebody to get to the bottom of what’s happening with these funds and these assets. Because if they’re going to a person that’s not supposed to have them, it’s insulting and disrespecting the wishes of that person who worked hard for that money, for those funds, and it’s also taking it away from people who are deserving of it. Look, if you get the money and then you want to give it to somebody, that’s fine, but don’t let them take it without the permission of you or the other person.

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