How to Protect Your Money from Inheritance Theft

  • Estate Planning
how to protect your money from inheritance theft | estate and probate legal group

Unfortunately, a family and other heirs sometimes fight over their inheritance and try to steal their inheritance from each other. When a family fights over who will get what, it can dissolve into inheritance theft or inheritance hijacking. What exactly is inheritance theft, and how can you protect yourself from it?

What is Inheritance Theft?

In short, inheritance theft is when someone steals assets meant for someone else. It can be done by a professional overseeing the distribution of your property – but it’s usually done by a family member. It can be something as simple as a valued piece of jewelry going missing before the reading of the will. Or maybe a family member takes their share of the inheritance and the money intended for a special needs benefactor. Perhaps you want to leave money to one child and not the other; there are ways to protect your wishes and avoid one sibling from stealing from another.

There are many forms of inheritance theft; here are a couple of them:

  • Someone stealing, hiding or diverting assets from your estate for their personal gain
  • Coercing or using undue influence to convince you to change your will or trust
  • Someone stealing, destroying or forging your will or trust
  • Your executor or trustee is charging excessive fees for their services

Not many people know that inheritance theft is a crime, and they can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

How to Protect Yourself

When you create your will or trust, you do so with the understanding that your loved ones will follow your wishes. But there are steps you can take to avoid inheritance theft.

  • Start your estate plan now and work with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney
  • Sit down with everyone at once and tell them your wishes
  • Consider distributing your assets before you pass away
  • Be meticulous about your record keeping

When you work with an estate planning attorney, your will or trust is often filed with the courts. This means that even if someone tries to steal, change or destroy your documents, your attorney and the courts still have an official copy.

Oak Brook Estate Planning Attorney

An Illinois estate planning lawyer can help you write a will or trust that will protect you from inheritance theft. To talk to a qualified attorney in the Chicago area, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835. 

AREAS WE SERVE: DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties.