The Theft of an Inheritance

When a loved one passes away, the grieving period can be overwhelming and lasting. Their legacy may live on in some small way through the cherished possessions they left behind. An heir may be gifted with the decedent’s antique car, a sentimental piece of jewelry, or the family homestead. But what happens if after the will is read and the heirs learn what they can expect to inherit, their loved one’s gift has been stolen? Worse, what if the executor of the estate is responsible for the theft?

Challenging a Will

One way that someone’s inheritance might be stolen is if the decedent’s will does not accurately reflect their intentions. One of the most common examples of this is when a person falls under the influence of a nefarious individual. As a result, the person may change their will so that the manipulative influencer inherits all or the bulk of the estate. Perhaps it is a beautiful younger woman who captures the heart of the person in their final chapter. Or maybe it’s a healthcare provider who spent many days and nights with the decedent as their health deteriorated. If you feel that a loved one had intended to share their legacy with you upon their passing but someone intervened, contact an estate lawyer. After a review of your circumstances, they can suggest whether or not you may have a valid case. In the event that you decide to challenge the will, your lawyer can submit your claim to the appropriate court. If the judge agrees with you, the individual may have to return their inheritance to the estate for redistribution to the lawfully recognized heirs.

Stolen Assets

One of the responsibilities of an estate executor is to locate and safeguard the estate’s assets. Once all of the assets have been identified, their value must be determined. If the assets are located in a place that puts them at risk, then the executor must take the proper steps to safeguard them. For example, if the decedent was renting an apartment at the time of their passing, their belongings must be removed from the apartment to avoid them being removed by the landlord in preparation for a new tenant. If the decedent owned one or more vehicles, the vehicles must be parked or stored in a location that does make them unreasonably vulnerable to theft or vandalism. If the executor is grossly negligent in the legal and moral responsibility to safeguard the estate, they can be held financially responsible. If it was the executor who confiscated assets from the estate, they may be held criminally responsible if the authorities determine that theft has been committed. An estate lawyer can provide you with guidance in these matters after a review of your case. If you notice anything strange going on while your loved one is still around, contact a lawyer, like a nursing home lawyer from Brown Kiely, LLP, today.