How to Stop Thefts from Elders and the Dead

Updated  7/17/16

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Preventing thefts and recovering assets stolen from vulnerable adults, elders and the dead has been the focus of my elder law practice for the past decade. These forms of thefts are a problem not only in my home state of Vermont, but throughout our country, and in the world at large.

After more than 12 years of handling theft cases in my practice, this is my conclusion:

Thieves who target the elderly and the dead are relentless, cunning, and patient in their pursuit of the money of others. They are predators. Vulnerable adults, especially elders with dementia who are alone in the world, are perfect targets for theft and need our protection.

I offer this post to help readers understand the ways in which predators steal from vulnerable adults or estates, what can be done to prevent these types of thefts, and how and who to report a suspected theft to.

This is a long post because this topic best explained with case examples. Please bear with me; I think this information may be helpful to you or those you love.

Just How Much is Stolen from Vulnerable Elders?

A recent report by True Link Financial on Elder Financial Abuse in 2015 estimates that $19 billion is lost annually to fraud by criminals and abuse of trust by friends, family members, and paid helpers.

It is also estimated that 954,000 seniors are currently skipping meals as a direct result of being the victim of some form of financial abuse.

For more information on the financial losses due to theft from vulnerable elders, you can go to

Unfortunately, I cannot find any verified data on the dollar amounts stolen from estates (guardianship or probate estates). Probate courts do not collect and archive this type of financial data nationally.

What Is Stolen?

Thefts from the dead fall into two basic categories:

1) Theft from the body of a dead person; and

2) Theft of property and/or money from their home and estate.

It just so happens that thefts from vulnerable adults and elders also fall into two basic categories:

1.) Theft of property, including homes deeded over, cars retitled, medication (especially narcotic pain medications that can be sold for cash), art work or jewelry taken without the knowledge or the consent of the elder, or taken from an elder through coercion or intimidation or undue influence; and

2) Theft of financial assets such as: taking cash or draining bank accounts; running up credit card balances or getting new cards in the elder’s name; stealing IRS refunds; stealing Social Security retirement or disability checks; stealing pension payments; defrauding elders into investing in businesses that don’t exist; coercing an elder into co-signing a loan at a bank; getting elders to buy expensive cars and jewelry and making “gifts” to the abuser. Frankly, the list is endless in this category.

Who is stealing from the elderly and the dead?

Strangers steal from elders and the dead. Family members steal from elderly and dead relatives. Friends steal from dead friends. Agents under a document known as a Power of Attorney steal from vulnerable adults and elders who have asked them to manage their assets. Legal Guardians appointed by probate courts steal from vulnerable adults they are supposed to protect. Executors or Administrators of estates, or legal heirs steal from estates.

Theft from vulnerable elders and the dead is an equal opportunity crime.

And you don’t have to be a millionaire to be a target for theft. As you will see in the examples below, anyone and any estate can be a target for theft.

It’s also important to know that theft from the dead is not a victim-less crime. When people steal from a dead or dying person, they are stealing from a widow or widower, from the deceased’s children and relations, and from the community. For example, if there are no funds to bury a body, then the local taxpayers pick up the tab for cremation and burial, unless the family or friends step up to bear the costs.

Let’s consider the following examples of how theft occurs.

Theft of property from the dead

  1. In Florida, a funeral home employee stole the wedding band and engagement ring off a dead woman a few days before Christmas in 2013.
  2. In another Florida case in August of 2014, a funeral home employee went into a home to transport a deceased elderly woman to the funeral home. When he came out of the bedroom with the body he had a gold chain hanging from his pants pocket. The police, who had been called to the deceased’s home at the time of death, took notice of that chain hanging from the funeral home employee’s pocket and quickly confronted the man and recovered the deceased’s jewelry on the spot. The man had taken approximately $1,000 of jewelry from the deceased’s bedroom. It’s reported that the jewelry had been on a bureau in plain sight.

These cases are not confined to Florida. Sadly, these types of thefts happen every day in every state and in every country.

Theft of money from the dead

  1. In August 2014, a homeless man died shortly after receiving a $20,000 inheritance from his parent’s estate. Shortly thereafter, he died. The day after he was found dead, his close friend convinced an acquaintance who worked at the deceased’s bank to transfer $18,000 from the deceased’s account into the friend’s account. After a tip from the deceased’s family about the recent inheritance, the police investigating the death went to the bank and the illegal transfer was identified and the money was recovered.
  2. In July 2013, a funeral home worker took personal banking information, as well as a debit card and credit cards, off the body of a man he was transporting. He quickly withdrew more than $5,000 from the deceased’s bank account and charged nearly $1,000 on the credit card. The widow immediately reported these thefts and unauthorized charges after making a visit to the bank. The thefts were traced back to the funeral home employee. In fact, the thief was seen on bank video going into the deceased’s bank for the withdrawals and then driving away in the funeral home’s van with the company logo on the side.

Thefts from Estates

After a death, family, friends, even the courts supervising an estate of a dead person, can fall victim to financial predators who know how to use the disability or death of a member of the community to their benefit.

For example, I worked on a recent Vermont case where a local businessman was appointed as the administrator of an estate of a woman who died without any family or friends. Using his position as a court appointed administrator, he stole money from the deceased’s brokerage account and her money market account for his personal use. Ultimately, he was reported to the F.B.I. for that crime and pled guilty.

When confronted by the F.B.I. with this estate theft, the man confessed to an additional crime. It seems he was also receiving a dead man’s pension payments for the prior 3 years. Many years earlier, the thief had befriended an elderly man. The thief convinced the man to name him as sole heir, and became joint tenant with right of survivorship on the man’s checking account – the account into which his pension payment was electronically deposited. When the elderly man died, this younger “friend” never reported the death to the pension plan administrator, even though he had been appointed as executor of this man’s estate. He continued to receive the funds each month for 3 years. This instance of pension fraud came to light when he was caught in his second theft involving a dead person.

Also worthy of mention here are the various forms of thefts from vulnerable adults, especially those with dementia. These kinds of thefts are all too common.

In my own law practice I have seen cases where:

  1. Elders are befriended by total strangers, who then move into their home and ultimately get title to valuable real estate through undue influence;
  2. A valuable house was sold from a guardianship estate without the court approval prior to sale as required by law. The house had been sold by the Guardian, and the proceeds did not come back into the guardianship estate;
  3. A family member of an elder tried to get named as joint tenant owner on bank accounts and CDs worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. This attempt was quickly stopped by the bank managers and the elder’s attorneys. In this same case, when the family member failed to get control of the elder’s wealth through banking channels, the relative planned to kidnap the elder, take them to another state and put them under guardianship so the relative could then “take” the elder’s wealth. That kidnapping plot was also stopped by the elder’s legal counsels.
  4. An in-home caregiver of a married elderly couple stole funds by using a VISA credit card to purchase store gift cards he then redeemed through a California company that paid .90 cents on the dollar. The credit card had been entrusted to the caregiver for the sole purpose of buying groceries and household supplies. The caregiver stole over $90,000 through this one scam. He also activated credit cards in the names of the elders and ran up large balances on those cards. He created and used an online identity to steal all funds from a money market account owned by one of the elders. He also coerced the elders into signing as guarantors for over $105,000 in student loans and $25,000 in personal loans. He is also believed to have stolen valuable rings during his tenure as a live-in caregiver. He is serving time in a federal prison for these acts.
  5. A grandchild stole their grandparent’s credit card while serving as their caregiver. She ran up the balance of the card by purchasing store gift cards and, it is believed, redeeming the gift cards for money to purchase drugs. This was the second time this grandchild had committed this type of theft from her grandparents.
  6. A person coming into a home to clean was caught stealing pain medication from the bathroom medicine cabinet. Certain types of prescription medications, especially narcotic pain medications, can be sold for $25 or more for just one tablet (e.g. Oxycontin, Vicodin are popular medicines to steal from unsuspecting adults and elders).


How to prevent thefts before and after you die?

Talk to your lawyer about the following issues, and any others of concern to you, and come up with a plan to protect your assets, both before your death and after your death. If you do not have a lawyer, please find one who understands these issues (usually an estate planning attorney or elder law attorney) and make an appointment to have this discussion.

Here are just a few of the critical issues to talk to your lawyer about:

  1. Ask the lawyer to advise you on how to pick someone you can trust to manage your estate upon your death. Make sure the person you select knows of your concerns to safeguard your possessions, property and money. Make a solid plan for how your property is to be distributed upon your death.
  2. Talk with your attorney about how to secure your paperwork and electronic data in your home, both financial and legal documents. Have your lawyer, or in some states the probate court, keep your original will. Make sure you safeguard the original documents that detail your estate plan so they are never lost or destroyed. And talk about what documents you may want or need to place into a lock box or safe deposit box, such as income tax returns, any paperwork that bears your date of birth and social security number, electronic storage devices that back up your home computer, and bank statements.
  3. Talk with your lawyer about your state’s laws that govern bank accounts and how best to safeguard those accounts. Please think twice about having other people on your bank accounts as joint tenants. Why? Because anyone listed as an owner on a joint account can, at ANY time, take all funds in the account due to their right of ownership. Talk with your lawyer about whether or not you should have other people named on your accounts as joint owners, or whether you should create a Power of Attorney account.
  4. Go see your lawyer if you feel you need someone to pay your bills and manage your financial life as you age, or to support you in those areas (e.g. hiring a bookkeeper). They may suggest appointing a fiduciary, either an Agent under a Power of Attorney, a Trustee under a form of Trust, or undergoing a voluntary financial guardianship, to serve you and keep you and your finances safe.
  5. Talk with your lawyer about how to make sure that anyone serving as your Agent or Guardian, Trustee or bookkeeper, has to report to you and account for your money and how it is being used on a routine (monthly/quarterly) schedule. If you are using someone else to manage your money and pay your bills, you could also ask your lawyer or accountant or financial advisor to review with you how your money is being spent by this Agent or Guardian at least twice a year – as it should only be spent for your benefit. If your lawyer sees something wrong with how money is being managed, they can advise you immediately on what actions you can take to correct the problem.
  6. Talk with your lawyer about how to lock down your credit and make it difficult for anyone to steal your identity before or after your death. What steps can be taken? You might check out any of the credit protection services that are now available, e.g. Lifelock, to protect your credit while you are alive. In addition, your Executor or Trustee should report your death to the credit reporting agencies immediately, as well as reporting a death immediately to the banks and any financial institution holding accounts for you. These are important steps to take to keep your legacy safe.
  7. Conduct or put together a complete inventory of your valued possessions, and get appraisals on valuable items. Make sure your lawyer/executor/trustee/children or heirs have that inventory, or know where it is, so that if something goes missing, they can know. Video inventories are also good to have if you have any items of significant value.

Here are some additional actions you can take to protect yourself and your property now:

  1. If you shop on the internet, as many elders do, get a lower limit credit card that you use solely for internet shopping purposes. This is recommended so that if someone gets to your card number through hacking a database or they steal or misuse that card, they can’t run up a big credit card balance.
  2. Place valuable jewelry in a safe deposit box, or at least a safe locked place out of view from visitors to your home (e.g. home care workers, cleaners). This is especially important for jewelry you are not wearing regularly.
  3. Review your homeowner’s policy with your insurance agent to see if it covers thefts from your home after your death, while your estate is in probate or is being managed in trust. If you have placed your home in a trust, check with your homeowner’s policy to make sure that your policy is titled correctly to provide coverage to the trust in case of theft from your home.
  4. Ask your lawyer or financial advisor how best to protect your spouse from becoming a victim of fraud or theft after your death. Widows and widowers are targets for every type of con artist/scam there is. From the lottery scams (where caller says you won the lottery, usually in a foreign country, but you have to wire funds to pay the taxes before you get your proceeds), to romance scams, to the undue influence of “poor” neighbors/strangers, we’ve seen it all. If you are concerned at all about the safety of your spouse if you anticipate you will die first, please talk with your lawyer, your children, or your financial advisor about how to use your estate plan to safeguard your spouse and their finances after your death.
  5. If you have pain medications stored in your medicine cabinet that you are no longer using, please dispose of them properly. If you need pain medication daily, think about dedicating a drawer that can be locked as the storage place for those medicines. It’s a good idea to clear out your medicine cabinet every 6 months.

These are just some highlights to think about and talk about with your estate planner, insurance agent, financial advisor and your family or close friends. The details are up to you, your family, your circle of friends, and your lawyer to sort out if you want to engage in planning to secure your property before and after you die.

Reporting a Theft

If you or someone you love is a victim of theft by a stranger, a caregiver, another member of the family, an  Agent under a Power of Attorney, or  Legal Guardian, please report the theft as soon as you have reasonable proof of theft or valid reason to suspect the misuse of funds or property  (e.g. a bank account statement, a missing car, credit card bills that show high balances or increased activity that is not consistent with how the elder spends money, missing Social Security or pension payments).

Report stolen Social Security monies to the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (

Report stolen pension checks to the pension fund administrator, to the bank where the elder usually has the checks deposited, and you can also call your state adult protective services office, and the local police.

Report ongoing exploitation or any form of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) by a stranger, caregiver or family member to local police and to your state adult protective services agency.

Report suspected abuse of an elder’s banking accounts to the bank or banks the elder uses. The banks conduct their own investigations on fraud and also report to the police when they find issues.

Report abuse of a credit card or a fraudulent card to the credit card company. Usually you have to have the elder on the phone with you to do this directly with the credit card company, OR you have to prove that you are the Guardian or Agent of the elder in order to speak for them with the credit card company.

Please make a plan and take the steps necessary to keep yourself or your loved ones safe from financial exploitation.



  1. Trying to see what can be done about my aunt neighbor. Having credit cards in her name she cancel out one that I knew about .someone have a car in her name .I was told the theft was not done to me This was done before she passway .I just found out about it

    1. Please contact a lawyer in your town/city to see what can be done. Usually, you have to go to probate court and open an estate and bring a suit against the person who took the belongings of the dead, but that costs money. If there was a theft, it was against your aunt, not you – so the only way to speak for her is to become her executor or administrator through court appointment. I hope that helps. Again, contact a lawyer in your town to see what can be done. Best wishes to you –

      1. My grandmother died less than a week ago. She was in the hospital for 2 mths prior. One of her daughters had access to her house. The other didn’t. As we did a walk through of the house today I noticed MANY items were taken/removed/missing. Including things thay were my own.The daughter with access is denying taking them. I consider this to be theft of estate as she had/has not been authorized by anyone to take/remove anything. What can I do legally?

        1. Hi Jacqueline, you should ask if there is going to be a probate court process, tell your grandmother’s attorney about items that are missing in writing, ask if there is a will. Usually a grandparent will leave their possessions to their children, not their grandchildren, so your parent may have to be the one to raise the flag on this as you may not have “standing”. Again, I encourage you to voice your concerns in writing to the attorney who will handle any probate process. So very sorry for the emotional pain this causes everyone – maybe your parent and the other siblings can confront the daughter who took the items and make her return them? Best of luck to you!

          1. My husband father passed away in June, he left everything to my husband and his brother but my father in law had been with a woman for many years after divorce from my husband mother, but that woman had three daughters one kept coming to hospital she stole my dad’s checks wrote herself a 17,000 check a 3,000 check . My father in law didn’t her permission because he control every dollar until the last . She wrote the check went to different city cashed it at check cashing company and my father-in-law was in hospital at the time we reported to bank he passed, the bank called my husband in to say people often take advantage of the sick and dying but he probably gave we know he didn’t he left word with bank he didn’t write check Why didn’t bank investigate and pay money back to my husband

          2. Pamela, I’m so sad to hear about what this woman did to your Dad and family. First, your husband or brother-in-law needs to file a police report on this woman for check fraud. She must have forged your Dad’s signature on the check in order to cash it. Once a police report is filed, then the police can investigate the allegation of check fraud. If she is charged, then the bank can use it’s insurance to refund the money to the account. Your husband and his brother can file a petition in probate court to be named as special administrators in order to have legal authority to bring this charge to the police. You don’t need a lawyer to file and be appointed and it’s usually a small fee at court to get this done. The clerks at the court can explain the process and forms they need to file. Again, I’m very sorry for what your family has been through. This is all too often what is happening to elders, even when they have family present and caring for them. Thieves are very creative. Best of luck to you all –

        2. I have fought my brother for 14 months over my mothers estate. Have won some but $20k of jewelery is now missing. He even tried to hide the rest from me even though he signed it over to me in a Deed Agreement. After another 3 weeks, no proof. He gets away with it. My Aunty has been at the house also many times, so another suspect. Hard to know if she would or wouldnt. I personally could not do such a thing. My only coping mechanism is to remember it was never my stuff and do we actually need it? Set yourself free and enjoy the memories of the beloved.

          1. That’s a great attitude to take, Chris. These are just things, right? But I get that it’s the “stuff” of someone you love and having items they cherished in your possession makes the connection seem to last. But in family fights in probate it’s not really about the items or money at all. These conflicts become a test of honesty and trust. Once you lose trust in a family member to be honest and deal fairly, you have to rethink your entire relationship with them. But you’ve found a great coping strategy – let go, but always remember what you learned about your family members so you can protect yourself going forward.

      2. I went to see a lawyer for a similar case that was done to me and after 10k +was used up,nothing was done so where to go from there but to give up when she cleaned up the estate.I don’t have the money to pursue any further,so she got away with it and the lawyer bled me for all he could

        1. Mary Ann, I’m so sorry you had such a bad experience with a theft from an elder or estate, and with a lawyer. One way to approach these cases is to ask the lawyer up front for a step by step plan on what can be done and ask them to approximate what each step would cost in terms of their time and your dollars. Also ask about their experience in recovering assets. The other option is always to report thefts from vulnerable adults to your State adult protective services agency – they are a free, state government agency that investigates both financial and physical abuse/neglect of vulnerable adults. The other option if you suspect theft from a vulnerable adult is to go to the police and file a report. Usually you need some evidence (bank statements, cancelled checks) to file a report. If this was a theft from an estate or guardianship, you can report your concerns to the court staff/judge with a letter and supporting evidence. Again, so sorry you had this experience.

      3. hello. I was wondering about something. My friend recently passed away and her, estranged stepson then decided to steal her Vehicle. I talked with the Bank that she had the loan through. The Essex Police drove her can back to her Parking spot at a Winooski vt, Highrise. Winoooski housing, called him and he came over with his girlfriend and, they handed the keys to them. Then they took off with it. I called the Stepson and his girlfriend and told them the car was NOT to be moved from that spot. Not to mention, her name was the only name on, not just the car. But, the Insurance also. Now, not only was it only the 2 of them the stepson and girlfriend. But, only one of them, have a Drivers License. One, drove both over. Both of them, drove off. I talked to the Police to let them know what went on and Names of both. Told them the style make and model of the Vehicle as well. The girlfriend, told me as if she was recording the convorsation said, well I think K.J. should be Head Executor!!!! I told her that the car needs to be returned right away! I heard K.J. say, LET THE FUCKING BITCH ROT!!!!!! Then I heard her say something at a whisper while both were giggling. Then, the phone hung up. Unfortunatly, They both have NOT, talked with any person, that k.j needs to speak with. These people are calling us back, telling us that they need to speak with him. We had to search, for someone who would atleast, Cremate her. But we dont have enough for a service. Bc, K.j. is head Beneficiary and I am Secondary Beneficiary. I dont even care about the Life Insurance. I myself, like the head executor hated the thought of our friend, Laying, in a freezer at the M.E. Because the funeral Director had to take her from his Cooler to there. Because to much time had passed. Once K.j. was told by the funeral director that, thats what the Life Ins. was for, to take care of any outstanding debt. To take care of her last wishes, Cremation and serviceI Whatever is left then have fun. The funeral director was even willing to do the Cremation and a service and even said he could have a nice, reception with food and all of that, and, take the cost out from the life Ins, once k.j. received it. He won`t talk even to the Funeral Director now. “Let that BITCH ROT!!! NOWAY AM I PUTTING MY MONEY TOWARDS HER OR ANYONE!!!! EXCEPT US> have been helping the Head Exec and trying to guide her as well as I can but, what should I say, for her to do? With everything so far i have been close on things for her to take care of. Thank you soooo very much for your time. Sincerely, Jay Lincoln

        1. The Executor should go to probate court (with her counsel) and get a court order issued to recover the asset of the estate – namely the car. Executor also should swear out theft report official to police w/jurisdiction over this stepson. You can then sell car to cover some of these costs for funeral. Unfortunately, life insurance passes outside of probate. But Executor does have right to know if insurance was paid properly – who was beneficiary.Towns do have funds to cremate/bury indigent people so that’s also a resource. This is,unfortunately, something that happens all too frequently. Once car was returned to parking spot, Executor should have held on to keys (or put car in safe/controlled space like a garage) so that no one else could take it. So sorry this is happening, but it is unfortunately more and more a common experience where someone just takes a valuable item and does not care about the dying or deceased person/their intentions and wishes.

    2. My daughter was the beneficiary of her grandfather’s Life Insurance policy. She cashed in the policy and got the death certificate. Weeks later her aunt said that she wanted a copy of the death certificate. How can she do the main thing her grandfather trusted her to do which is protect his name legally because he removed this sister from all his business due to prior deception? Is there any way she can find out if anyone else cashed in a Life Insurance policy or anything else dealing with money on his behalf. Due to living in a different state than her grandfather caused her to have to deal with some of those family members in the until she arrived in the state?

      1. Hi, so sorry for delay in responding to your question. In general, life insurance/pension/annuity “products” pass outside of probate. The beneficiary named on the survivor benefit/Pay on Death forms held by the company/plan administrator/financial institution is contacted, they must send a death certificate and then the payment is made to the beneficiary. Your daughter has no obligation to share information on her status as beneficiary or any of the documentation she acquired with anyone other than the company involved in the pay out. Death certificates are public documents, if someone wants a death certificate, they can go down to the local town/city records office and pay for one. Hope this is helpful, again sorry for delay in responding.

        1. What about the Police? My Uncle died and after the coroner left they helped themselves to valuable gold coins and cash.
          I was told that after the Coroner left that several Police Officers stayed for over six hours going through my uncle’s house looking for valuables.
          They finally left at 5:30 am. I was told to keep silent or else! I found out that both the Police and Coroners regularly steal valuables from the estates of the deceased.
          Yet no one wants to talk about this problem.

    3. For 20 plus year, my brother, first the account manager of my dads brokerage account, left to my Mom. He was elected as an executor over the will, estate brokerage account later and now she has passed at 94. She became a widow at 55. My brother has managed everything for her since then. A friend of his, an Edward Jones advisore convinced him in his early 30’s to move all assets with them. my brother convinced me and 5 other siblings to do it and we liked the idea, but all beneficiaries have never seen but one statement in 2011. That’s it. Now, he will dole out our cut, no probate court as we signed papers to fix that. Should I be worried. His wife has seen probably every statement as well. Even my sister who was appointed executor wants to trust him all the way to the end. Personally I have always felt my brother and his wife have been using my mother to get by with what they can legally for money, not because they truly cared for her. What should I do ???? Have I waited too long???

      1. Hi Marianne, there’s a phrase you might like, it’s “trust but verify.” I suggest that you all get a full accounting (statements, explanation of any withdrawals) from your brother going back to the last time you saw statements (2011). Because the account was active, the entire history should be easy for him to produce. He shows you all everything, explains your shares, gets sign off. He has liability as Agent for your mother (under POA I assume). It’s not personal, it’s business, he shows everything to everyone. You all have time to review. Then you take your shares. Hope that’s helpful.

      2. Sounds like a job for FBI

  2. Due to Stage 4 colon cancer my husband lost his fight on May 12th 2015. In July of 2015 I received documents from Wells Fargo Bank about overdraft fees. I had no knowledge of this account so off to the bank I go. I found out that my husband had been receiving pension payments since 2013.After reviewing the bank statements from June 2013-2015, the 1st check issued was approximately $1200.00. His daughter used starter checks to withdraw the money. The initial check was made out to “cash” for $700 and an additional check for $400.00 made out to herself in her own handwriting. This criminal behavior had been transpiring since 2013.

    After all starter checks were depleted, she began using a debit card she requested to make store/dining purchases and cash withdrawals for her own personal pleasures.essentially depleted all funds and overdrew the account. She continued to use the card the day of my husbands passing, even weeks thereafter. Once i contacted the Pension company they had already spoken with his daughter which she informed them of his death and request survial beniftis. They reversed the June payment and explained the law entires wife for such benifits and on the form that was completed for the benifits it indicated no wife, (i think she completed these forms) I never saw or sign any thing of this nature. The pension company told me she requested any documents be mailed to her address.(so I would not be aware of theses benefits.
    His daughter’s greed and entitlement is how I found out. The law states that the wife is entitled to benefits even after death.

    Now I have to expend extensive hours and cost clearing up Carl’s compromised pension and financial records. The reality is, his daughter made the choice to commit fraud without thinking of the ramifications of her actions; she tried to hide the fact that benefits were being disbursed her actions are criminal. We had a minor child which could use any survial beniftis to pay for college.

    I only recently got a letter from the pension company, and they have requested documents from the state of florida…(I quess the death cert. etc.) I recently got a letter from IRS requesting payment for out standing taxes on that money that was not reported on his taxes over 6k……she refuses to talk to me, and her father in law clms the monthly payments my hubsand allowed her to use to help out and he is not here to answer to possible fraud. I feel if it was gifts why did she not report the money on her taxes the last 2 years. please give me your scope on this problem and do you believe I will recover the survial benifits and what opions for his daughter….thanks inadvance. ( I have no ideal how much money )

    1. I am so sorry to hear of your husband’s death and this situation with a pension account. You need a lawyer in your state who can handle financial exploitation/elder law work. Check out, that’s the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, they have elder law attorneys listed by zip code. If your husband’s daughter’s name was not on that account as a joint owner, then I think you have solid ground to bring a complaint. Wells Fargo should also allow you to file a fraud complaint, and there may be bank insurance to pay your claim against the bank for allowing someone other than the owner of the account to withdraw funds. You should talk with your lawyer about the potential for a criminal case, either state or federal law enforcement should be able to advise you/your lawyer on whether there are criminal charges that could be investigated here – e.g. money/wire fraud for writing checks off the account. You can also talk to a lawyer about appealing the IRS demand for payment of income taxes on the money. I am so sorry this has happened to you and your family. But I want to thank you for sharing what I’m sure is a very painful experience. Best of luck to you in recovering either from the bank (if she was not a joint owner on the account and they processed the checks), or from her.

  3. My 79 year old friend died over 2 years ago leaving a large financial estate with no family related survivors. His $300,000 home has remained vacant since his death with no attempts at selling or renting the property. The vacant house is being maintained by a trust attorney whom i am unable to identify or contact in any manner. The estate at death was of great value as i was told by my friend who was a philanthropist.

    1. Your friend created the trust that now owns his home, and the trustee must manage the trust per your friend’s wishes and directives of your friend’s private trust document. One way of contacting a trustee is to just send a letter addressed to “Trustee of (your friend’s name), and mail it to the address of the house. I guarantee you, all mail going to that home address is being redirected to the Trustee. A trustee, however, is bound by the terms of the trust and may not respond to you or tell you anything because you are not a beneficiary of the trust, otherwise he would have been in contact with you long before now. With no family, your friend may have left all of his money to his favorite charities. Whoever the trust beneficiaries are, they are the only ones with legal standing who can oversee the actions of the trustee. The good news here is your friend set up a solid plan to distribute his assets upon his death – but that can take time when dealing with different kinds of assets (real property, stocks, etc). You are a good friend to keep an eye out on what is happening. But again, it’s up to the beneficiaries of the trust to monitor the situation and the actions of the trustee.

  4. My father recently passed I Florida. He wanted his things split between his five children. My sister conspired with my mom (his ex wife) and entered his home and stole 200 thousand dollars he had in a safe. I’m really hurt but I want to respect my dads last wishes. What can I do?

    1. Hi Greg, I am so sorry to hear that happened to you and your siblings, this type of behavior breaks families apart. My best suggestion is that you either report this to the Executor of the Estate. If there is no estate open, then find a lawyer who knows probate litigation in the county in which your father lived and ask them if there is any potential for recovery. The other option is to go to the local police station and talk with an officer. The problem is going to be proving the theft of cash – hard to trace, and nearly impossible to prove. Is there any way all of you together could sit down and talk with these women about their behavior? Again, I am so sorry to hear this happened within your family. Please take care of yourself in all of this –

  5. My mom passed July 20,she was 84. I’ve found proof that my step dad had been having an active relationship with another woman for over 11 years, he s named on a business venture at her home address and 21/2 years ago the home they lived in 30 was foreclosed on, I moved then in with me. ..he’s 70. I meet with a lawyer this week, is there a chance I could recover anything for her estate for my siblings and myself, to her honor and dignity?

    1. Hi Louella, I’m so sorry that you are facing this situation with your stepfather. The best thing you can do is find a lawyer who knows probate, and let your lawyer guide you through your home state laws regarding estate administration. I hope you will take care of yourself in this process because grief can be overwhelming and make us do things we normally would not do – like enter into litigation that in the end doesn’t yield the justice we seek. Someone wise once told me that the only two people who know what is going on in a marriage are the two people IN the marriage. I hope you find peace with what sounds like a very painful situation.

  6. I lost my mother in the first week of July 2016.
    She had two sons. Myself and my brother. her intentions were to leave everything to my brother and I 50/50, which he and I have been settling up with without argument or contest.

    However; a couple of days after my mom’s services a letter from one of her credit card issuers came. The letter asked for my mom to contact them. the tone seems urgent. I immediately called the credit card company and informed them my mom had passed several weeks earlier. During the conversation I asked the c/s agent had there been any activity on the card since her passing. From this inquiry we 9my brother and I,) discovered that the card had indeed been used immediately after her death and continued to be used for about a week after, to the tune of about 3,000.00.

    This alarming news prompted me to contact her other credit card companies, which also said there had been post death activity on both of them as well. All three card companies told me they were going to close the accounts, and that those post death charges would not be posted to her estate.

    I tried to file a complaint with the local sheriff’s dept. But was told they could not pursue the matter because I had to show them proof that I am the administrator of the estate.

    In addition; her car was taken last week. the sheriff’s deputy I talked with said that even with the car he could not file the complaint, for the same reason.

    PS; The car was supposed to go to my brother, who lives in Boston, Mass.

    what other avenues can to take to pursue a criminal complaint against the person who used her credit cards and taken her vehicle?

    1. Hi Marcario, the police officer is right, in order to “speak” for your Mom, you and/or your brother need to go to probate court and file a petition to open an estate (the type of estate will depend on if your Mom had a written will) in order to file a criminal complaint against the person(s) who used her credit cards and took her car. Only if you are the Executor or Administrator of her estate can you take action. Please contact the probate court in the county in which your Mom lived and ask for their help in getting started. It’s the only way law enforcement and insurance (car insurance against theft?) will talk with you and help you. You have my sincere condolences – your loss is heavy and you should not have to deal with theft of a car and identity theft for the use of credit cards on top of your loss. I am so sorry to hear this happened to your family. Once you are the Executor or Administrator, you might get counsel from a probate attorney or at least get some advice about how to lock down your Mom’s credit and certainly notify Social Security Administration (to stop her SS check each month) and any pension payments she was getting. It sounds like the person(s) doing this have her social security number/birthdate and other information that would allow them to divert automatic deposits of Social Security and pension checks.

      1. Thank you Paula. My brother and I were able to stop her Social Security payments, and retirement fund. I have settled her utilitiy bills, and credit card balances.

        The only thing I am unable to do at this point is to cancel her auto insurance and file a complaint against the perpetrator.

        I will follow your suggestion and seek counsel from a probate attorney.

        Thank you for your insight and advice. You have been most wonderful.

        1. So happy this little blog could be of help to you – take good care!

  7. Paula, Our neighbor Edith in Hilton Head, SC was hospitalized and has a home, car, contents worth about 700K with no mortgage. Her renting neighbor had POA papers drawn and signed in in exchange of watching her dog while she was in the hospital. The renting neighbor hid her from seeing any neighbors, friends, and financial handlers during this time. We believe Edith died but can’t find a death certificate. The renting neighbor has taken her bank accounts, car, and now the house was transferred for $1 and shows a deed noted as deceased. She is also in the house daily and looks to be preparing for sale or rent. Probate has no record of death as it was not turned in. The neighbor has effectively stolen her entire estate. Edith only had a god son in CA and no other living relatives. The police can’t get involved as the legal papers show in order although Edith had no intention of giving her entire estate to a neighbor. Who do we report this huge crime to? Probate, Legal Aide, and other avenues haven’t helped. We can’t spend money for an attorney but this is a crime. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Christin, this is such a sad story, that a human being could “disappear” and her possessions be taken by a person who, allegedly, financially exploited an elderly woman living alone without family or friends to protect her. Unfortunately, the only people with “standing” to bring any kind of complaint in this scenario are legal heirs to your neighbor, Edith. So either Edith’s siblings, their offspring, or cousins, need to get involved in reporting theft of an estate they would have had legal right to (if there is no will). Unfortunately, this happens every day to people who live and age alone, without close friends, or close advisers (accountants, lawyers). The lesson here is important – everyone needs a plan on how they will age and how they will protect their assets so that their worldly possessions pass according to their wishes at the time of their death. I think you should at least contact the godson and let him know what is happening, maybe he is a legal heir to Edith?

      Thank you for leaving that comment, it’s a cautionary tale to everyone to get their legal and financial matters in order.

  8. My grandma (raised me so more like a mom) recently passed. I had been living and caring for her for 10 years but had to go out of state for a couple years for a job. I was always planning on returning home when the job ended. The previous will gave me the home. January 2016, she told me she was going to change it to 50/50 bc my brother was helping her. Ok. Well, the will gave it all to him via a tod deed. The estate lawyer told me that she did contact him in January about 50/50 but called in February saying that I didn’t want it if I didn’t get it all. I never said that but I think my mom and brother did which means she made her choice based on fraud. Then after she died, he transferred money from the joint account where I’m the survivor. He returned the money taken 3 days after but the bank doesn’t care about the day of transfer bc it was 57 minutes before time on death certificate even though I have proof she was dead and that he gave a false story to the bank manager. I’m contemplating contesting the will as a means to mediate the 50/50. I know these cases are impossible in jury but better odds with mediation. I want to know if I can prosecute him for the bank transactions even though the bank doesn’t want to go further (all the accounts are in the same bank so they aren’t interested in fighting with another customer)? Just because he returned the money doesn’t mean he didn’t take it and the other money was taken after death even if not dead on paper. If I could prosecute him, it would help me with leverage in trying to settle bc I’m effectively homeless once my job ends. I tried to look it up but can’t get information.
    I tried calling an attorney but he said he would call back but never did. What kind of lawyer do I want to call?

    1. Hi Hannah, this is clearly a very hard situation – it involves family and promises that were not kept and the death of someone you loved. If there is an estate open at the local probate court, you could ask them whether the court clerk has a list of local attorneys who handle probate issues. You want a probate attorney to talk with you about what rights you might have in obtaining some of the estate assets that may have been promised to you when you moved in to take care of your grandmother.If there is no probate court estate matter open, then still get a list from the local probate court of attorneys who handle these matters and see about getting an appointment with one of them to discuss the matter. I am so sorry you find yourself in this situation with your family. Take care –

  9. My father in law died in May, 2009 and the executor (his brothers daughter) has done some very questionable things. For example, she made no attempt to notify his eldest granddaughter of her inheritance and when asked about it claimed it was “too late”. She provided none of his heirs with an accounting of the value of the estate or the contents even the contents of his safety deposit box. She will not provide any accounting of the “higher education fund” of $ 20 per child that was left to 4 minor children. The one that did use his for college, often had to drop classes because she refused to disburse tuition payments in a timely manner. Worse yet, we just found a notarized will that was written in 1994, that divided the estate equally between his 3 living children. The will the executor produced upon his death, had suddenly been changed in 2007 stating that he wanted the majority of his estate to go to a homeless shelter. I find all these things, when put together, to warrant further investigation, but we can not afford a lawyer. Any advice?

    1. Hi Patricia, In this case, your husband should put his demand for information in writing, so should the other heirs, and send letters to the Executor and copy them to the court where this matter is pending. After sending a letter, your husband and the other heirs should jointly request that the court hold a hearing on the executor’s behavior, lack of information, the allegation that she told one heir that it was “too late” for her to collect on her college funds. Lay it all out for the court with as much written documentation as you can find. The heirs can also file a copy of the newly found will for the court’s consideration. If that will was drafted by an attorney, the attorney and any witnesses to the will should be called to court to give testimony. The court clerk’s office may have good written information on the rights of heirs in an estate that they can give you. Best of luck to your husband and his family –

  10. I apologize for my typing errors……I am very tired. The fund for each grandchild is 20,000. And the failure to contact the eldest granddaughter stating it was “too late”, was less than 6 months after he passed away. Thank you

  11. i am the excutive of my brothers will. Days after his death i discovered a care giver that we hired. was using credit cards and put her name on one. she forged one check that i knew of. i reported it to law plus thousand of dollars of tools were stolen. The law has done nothing. I gave proof of my brother was with me during some use. He was unable to drive and she was every where buying and using his card. She bought a car and tag on his cards. i disputed all charges an am not paying them. But i dont want another family to suffer like we have.

    1. Thank you, Gail, for leaving this comment. Credit card fraud and check fraud are issues we see all too frequently with people who are very ill and/or dying. The best way to avoid this problem is to lock up/secure all credit cards, checkbooks, printed boxes of checks, Social Security card(s), tax returns, other paperwork that has identity information on it as a routine practice so a worker coming into the home cannot get ahold of credit cards or checks, or checking account information (that could be used to create on line account access). Computer(s) and passwords should also be password protected. Reporting this person to the state agency that investigates financial exploitation of vulnerable adults might get some action. Filing a police report if personal property was taken and you can prove they had access and did these other crimes also helps – with insurance. You may also want to check your brother’s credit report to see if the caregiver took out new cards in his name, or other forms of loans originated in his name – and lock down his credit. Some caregivers have redirected the monthly Social Security or pension checks into their own accounts as well – so check with them too. Planning ahead and practicing safe storage habits with personal paperwork, credit cards, computers and banking information goes a long way to preventing these types of thefts. In addition, if a caregiver has to use a credit card for groceries, prescriptions, or other personal shopping, get a card dedicated for that purpose and put a limit on it – and make sure you review the credit card statement routinely and get receipts from the caregiver for charges. I am so sorry your family experienced this theft – but thank you for raising the flag for other families to know that this is happening out there and they need to protect vulnerable family members.

  12. Hello, My father has a revocable living trust with a no contest clause in it. All property is to be sold and divided among his children. I am the trustee/executor of the will (written in MO). What recourse would I have if I have proof that his children take his property once he passes? Would I have them arrested? Contesting a will is to file a suit regarding what the will states, correct? Taking his belongings that are to be sold isn’t a form of contesting, is it? Thank you

    1. Hi Chris, you should hire a probate attorney to advise you in the state in which the will/trust is to be managed. In general, because I don’t practice law in MO, you should consult with a lawyer who knows the particular laws of your state that govern the trust. Hypothetically speaking – contesting one’s rights to inherit under a will (no contest clause) is not the same as the Executor/Trustee seeking to recover property taken from the Trust/Estate by people outside of the distribution process set forth in the trust/will. Again, get a lawyer, the estate has to pay that fee for legal counsel. Best of luck to you – and so sorry you have to deal with this after a death of a loved one.

  13. In Dec 2016, I rcvd a shocking phone call…The apt manager where my 100 year mother lived out-of-state called to advise me that my mother had died and been cremated by her caretaker! No one had ever notified me of anything , her only daughter, not even the hospital nor crematorium. As if I wasn’t in shock enough, the caretaker had also shown them papers where she inherited everything from a recent 2-year old Will, which I had never seen and my mother never mentioned. I always had copies of my mother’s Wills and POA, but certainly not the one she produced. My mother never mentioned a “new” Will . It was worse than that…When I arrived at my mother’s apt , everything of value had been stolen, everything including her car all within 5 days of my mother’s death. The caretaker also somehow had managed to remove me from all bank accounts and the Safety Deposit Box and had herself replaced on them. She forged checks (which I turned into the bank) and stole over $250k and also managed to inherit the house my mother owned and rented out. Yes, I immediately notified the police and obtained a lawyer, and everyone knows it’s suspiciously obvious what this woman did, but she was so professional at it, she road-blocked us all. I cannot even get bank records to investigate her, and the DA says it’s a Civil case because this woman managed to be on a Will. My lawyer and the CSI investigator believe this case will be very hard to win because there are no medical records showing my mother had dementia. The only witnesses I have are friends of mine who knew my mother, and can attest that she had bouts of tantrums and start yelling and screaming if she wasn’t getting her way, and was becoming more childish with age. The caretaker stole everything, all valuables, the Safety Deposit box items and cleared all bank accts, even though I was listed as POD on some of them. How can I possibly fight this horrible woman? She’s a professional at it, and when I investigated her, learned she was a part time nurse’s aide, owned a $339 house and 5 cars, and her son had a 20 year rapsheet for forgery and theft. Is there any advice you can give me and my lawyer on how to best prove this is a case of”Undue Influence” and “elder financial abuse”? Nobody seems confident we can win because my mother didn’t go to doctors, refused to actually, so no institution can vouch she had mental capacity problems. I have original Wills and POA where I had been the beneficiary for decades.

    1. Hello Mariann, I am so sorry to hear this account of the caregiver taking everything your mother owned. Your legal ability to challenge this in court depends on the state in which you reside. If your lawyer thinks it would be of any help to them, they should feel free to contact me at my office at 802 773-3300. But it is very hard to win undue influence cases, especially where there is no medical documentation/prescriptions for dementia/Alzheimer’s. The other issue is the lawyer who drafted the new will should be questioned if you challenge the will – why would your mother all of a sudden disinherit her child for a stranger. Again, more than willing to talk with your lawyer if they think it would be helpful.

    2. Hi Mariann, it sounds like you have a lawyer and law enforcement already engaged. You can always get a 2nd opinion from another lawyer, but given the facts you’d be bringing a challenge to a Will which can be hard to prove up. I suggest you and your lawyer set up a game plan, figure out your goals and a budget and see where going to court gets you. Sometimes these folks back down when light is shined on their behavior. So sorry you are going through this experience of the passing of your mother but the loss of your inheritance.

  14. Hi Paula,
    My Mom passed away 15 months ago and my Dad 4 years prior. As per my Dad wishes his bank accounts, IRA, savings were spilt 50% my Mom then 50% between his 3 children, my 2 brothers and myself. When my Mom past at the end of 2016 we did the same with her bank accts and since both had only a few thousand dollars no problems at all. My Mom lived with me the last 2 1/2 year of her life and I was her full time care giver due to rapid onset dementia. After my Dad passed it was agreed that my brother and I add our names to the title of the home which in Southern CA was paid in full years ago. Unfortunately I was going through a divorce after 33 years of marriage and did not want to add my name at the time so my husband couldn’t go after it and another brother has been estranged from the family and we couldn’t locate. My parents always expressed the house should be spilt equally between the 3 of us I respect though one brother hadn’t been in their lives for years, it’s their wish that again I respect. Finally after all that here’s the question. Since there was nothing in writing about the house and spilting it by 3, the one who had his name in it stated he isn’t doing anything with house until he dies. No one lives in it full time though 6 months prior to my my Moms death he doubled the size of the garage since he has worked out if it for years. Is there any legal recourse to had my other brother and myself in the deed or is he now entitled to %100 of it since he’s the only one now listed on the house deed. Thank you and I hope that made some kind of sense?

    1. Hi Michelle, in most states the deed controls how real property, like a house, is conveyed upon death. I suggest you contact a probate/estate lawyer who is willing to give you a free consult (usually 30 min) on your issue to explore whether or not there is any way to challenge this. Your caregiving for your Mom for the last 2.5 yrs of her life and whether or not you were paid for that caregiving is a critical fact, as is any verbal promise she made to you that you would also inherit part of the house. I’m sorry you’re going through this experience with your brother, please be sure to get the emotional support you need around grieving the loss of your Mom and dealing with your brother. Again, a lawyer in the practice area of probate/estate law in the state where your Mom died could give you advice on this matter.

  15. Hi my mom died last September and her husband a year prior to that she told us kids he left well of she told us the will is split equally between us kids, she choose to use her sister as an executor an also gave her power of attorney out of fear of her. The day my moms husband died she flew up to my moms house with her son an made her get rid of everything as my mom called me crying that she was not allowed to even keep her cassette tapes. My Aunt had her come back to live with her an charged her $500 to live a room that had no heat in the state of Ct mind you my mother died of Pneumonia. During this time my Aunt demanded to be her power of attorney an executor or her will. My Aunt also made it that I would not recieve my inheritance the same way my brothers did because she said I was on SSI an they would take it, I have not seen or spoke to my Aunt in over 30 years because this is not the first inheritance she has stolen. An I am on SSDI retirement from a disability from working an would not have lost any inheritance. Now on December 3 my Aunt had me come to her house to dispense my inheritance she put it as a gift from her of $30,000. She had a brand new $40,000 truck in her drive way an a banks statement on her kitchen table with my check that had my $30,000 withdraw of over $259,000.00 my brother just contacted me 2 days ago about there inheritance of $45,000.00 an that our Aunt is not providing any of us a copy of the will. We as her heirs and not disputing each other but the executor stealing from the estate as at this point the one proven thefts is the $15,000 that I did not get we 3 kids inheritance was to be equal. An now my brothers question is if she stole from me what did she steal from them. She knows I am disabled live in the state of Vermont not Ct were my mom died an do not have the financial means to legally go after her. I do not know what to do or were to turn any advice would be great.

    1. Hi Ruth, I am so sorry to hear of what your family has been through. I’m sorry that no one reported your aunt to Adult Protective Services in CT. The best thing you can do is all of you kids need to find out what probate court your Mom’s will was admitted in and then ask the Judge to review what your Aunt has been doing. As the beneficiaries under the will, you have the right to raise your issues with the judge and get answers from your Aunt. You don’t need a lawyer to do this, but it might help. Sometimes lawyers will take cases for free, and you could ask the probate court clerks if there is a list of lawyer who take cases like this for free – to get answers – or for lower costs. But at least call the court and talk with the clerk about the fact you don’t have the will and you are worried your Aunt is not giving everyone an equal share. I do hope you will be able to get your answers from the court.

  16. I need help. My mom died 16 months ago. My parents were married 48 years. 5 months after my mom died a woman moved into my parents house. They married 4 months later. My dead mother’s will couldn’t be found, so without her estate being transferred to my dad’s name only, he couldn’t removed my dead mom’s name off the deeds to the house or car titles. My dad’s health went downhill and he died. I am the executor. The new wife of 11 months has taken over my parents house and 48 years of belongings, locking me and my sister out. My dad’s will left everything to us and his grandchildren. We are told that will doesn’t matter because the new wife of 11 months has survivors rights. I went through my dad’s papers and found a new mortgage refinancing on my parents house 10 days before he died. The mortgage is fraud. My mom’s name was Janice and the new wife is Janet. The deed and new mortgage is listed to my dead dad and mom. So this lady pretended to be my dead mother’s identity and no one caught the deciet. There is so much more appalling actions committed. Us kids feel totally distraught and all our family hierlooms are disappearing and we have no access to the house. They have now blocked all our number 11 days since my dad died. Please help. What do I do?

    1. HI Jenny, I will also email you at the account listed above. You need a lawyer to represent you as Executor asap because you need to take some actions immediately. Check for my email.

  17. Please can someone give advice, My mother passed away in Dec last year. She moved in with my sister 8 years ago and paid for half her house a sum of $350,000 . This left her with approx $600,000 there about in her bank.
    All this money has gone . Where ,I do not know. My sister had signing rights on all my mother affairs.
    In this time mum bought nothing and went on no holidays.
    After she died there was left a sum of $24,000 to be divided amongst 7 children.
    What can I do about this. My sister is the executor and is giving out as little information as possible .
    I had to track the lawyer just to see mums will .
    Can anyone help with info.
    Thanks. Shane

    1. You need to go get your own lawyer and see if you can demand an accounting from your sister who was in charge of your Mom’s money during her lifetime. Before her estate is closed, your sister MAY be required (if you make a demand for accounting) to be completely transparent on how she used your Mom’s money. Again, get a lawyer fast as this money may have disappeared years ago into your sister’s hands.

  18. The Government only thinks how to Rob the Public in Australia but Gives it out with out Thinking to the Rich like my Father while he was alive his sister was getting his money built Triple Story House
    Last month paid $100,000 uro for her grand son wedding and now refood her house for $5,000 uro dollars but he is dead but the government still pays his sister pension fund to be rich

  19. my brother got my stepdad to sign over the property that was to go to me as an inheritance he was not in the will, he said it was to save money on capital gains, my step dad is 86, no one was with my step dad when my brother spoke with him, has he committed a crime

    1. Hi Janice, you need a lawyer to help guide you. Depending on the laws in the state where your stepdad resides, this may be exploitation of a vulnerable elder (a crime), or “undue influence” – more a civil court matter. Please contact a lawyer for a consult asap, okay? Take care –

      1. thank you

  20. Paula,
    Being wrongly accused of abuse and exploitation of my husband. My Husband’s adult children
    were able to convince VT APS, Probate Court, and all 3 appointed Attorneys that I was a gold
    digger. When actually it is the adult children who are the guilty ones. While I am trying to keep up with all the harassment from this action, the adult children gain favor in the courts, and I lose all my rights as a wife. After 34 months the VT APS arrives at the conclusion, unsubstantiated allegations. I now have found the hidden Trust with a fictitious name set up under a land Trust
    valued at over $4,000,000. set up by the adult children, money that they transferred out of a financial portfolio. They have gotten away with thievery and still are siting in the bright light as far as the attorneys and court. My husband and I are still being controlled by Probate court and 3 of his attorneys, Financial Guardian, Personal Guardian, and personal attorney. My husband is now being abuse by the system, he has fallen 4 times in 6 months, they rent a wheel chair that is a piece of crap, they get him up in the morning 6 am and he sits in the same place all day, they change him once a day. He sits at the dining room table at his facility and sleeps with his head on the table. He looks like a homeless man who is not being manicure properly. This wondeful man who has alzheimer and has worked hard all his life is paying our hundreds of thousands of dollars to attorneys who are actually working for the best interest of the adult children, because they believe them. The financial Guardian refuses to accept the information I have found against the children, he will not even look at it. He wants me to be the guilty one. I spent my husband money like most wife’s, but I also worked right beside him during our complete marriage, I took care of him for 3 years by my self after he was diagnosed. His adult children constantly tried to run me off. I am still here trying to get justice for my husband. I am only one person who is being attacked by 3 attorneys and 5 adult children with spouses.
    Do you see any way out for me? The attorney I spoke to advise me to get a divorce. That is very hard to do I love this man and he was so good to me, I hate to leave him. And it would make me look more so like a gold digger. Oh yea, by the way this gold digger, is a stupid gold digger. My name was on nothing and his children interferred with the estate planned, we were unable to complete, we tried 3 times and his children interfered every time. They were as bold to try to accomplish estate planning without me, a time that I had to go out of state, behind my back.
    Thank god the attorney would not allow that to happen. These adult children along with the attorneys are out of control, and are being paid by my husband’s money.
    Good Advise, don’t always believe everyone until you get both sides of the story.
    The VT APS the investigator didn’t even interview me or my husband or visit our home. Tell me what is wrong with that picture? Everyone wants the adult children to be right in this case, who cares that they stole 4M from their father.

    1. Hi Chris, I can’t comment on an open case before a probate court in Vermont, where I practice. My best advice is that you listen to your lawyer, sounds like they are working hard for you.

  21. Hi,
    I don’t believe you have covered this one yet. I became disabled at the age of 32. I had already bought a home in one of
    The most expensive counties in the Continental US. I worked hard (3 jobs) but I did it in addition to slowly but surely furnishing the home with high end furniture and purchased a new car.
    Unfortunately despite all my success, the. Iffy of a beautiful. Any..I caught my spouse who by year 3 of marriage ceased working and decided to go back with my coaxing and get his medical certification in one area. It should have taken him 3 years. However, 10 years later he finished which is about a year after we divorced.
    Before we divorced I was hurt on the job twice and fought hard to keep working until my higher power had a car hit me at a rate of 35 mph. I decided after having sudden severe trouble driving – I had a head injury, my eyeballs knocked from my socket and neck, should and spine damage that was declared inoperable. I decided to be a good worker and go into my employer to give notice and my high power again said no and I ended up passing out while driving and totally my car and two
    sUV’s parked along the road. No one but me was hurt luckily.
    At that time, I was living with my parents which was to be temporary but after I spent a year as an invalid, a year learning to walk, and am working on speech, memory among a litany of
    Other issues my Parents said I had to sign a Power of Attorney which I thought would allow me to get their help with paperwork and other items of significance.
    To be blunt, they used the POA to take myself and daughter as a tax deduction leaving me with tax bills galore varying from the 6k lien my exspouse created for me and refund he stole despite the court order and false promises that I won’t have to pay taxes on a 155k back settlement from SSDI.
    In addition, my mother is. Oval and irritated with my presence and gave my brother 50k to remodel is home while they turned the basement into my room which has flooded repeatedly, caused me health issues, and, according to them is why Inwent from a 1400 sq ft fully furnished home down with heirlooms from my Great Great grandparents especially High end China and Vases and other jewelry, and e pensive and even new items and when I went to get them I was told that they must have been damaged in the flood at their storage unit which is insured. I could have recouped the money. If my Mom wouldn’t let me file. A claim. The same thing occurred when I was in the auto accident and she wouldn’t let me pursue the entire policy despite my inquiries as to whether or not
    I should obtain renters insurance.
    Last but not least, she has used the deduction in her inheritance that KGB grabdfather felt I should never pay as they took advantage of me on a real estate deal to the tune of 100k. She has started charging me 8 times the interest my grandfather did and has not adhered to deL my Grandfatger and I had about not having to pay until I was receiving SSDI.
    Since she has POA in all areas I am beyond
    Concerned about getting help with paperwork which she often demands and then destroys so I have to go back and make endless Calls to retrieve the information, it my concern as a disabled adult is that she is making money off me. Second, she never allowed me to pursue my auto claim as she was concerned with her rates and worst of all she is now stating that despite me paying her off for the loans I took out, that is I use any of the money from my back pay to do anything including secure transportation to get my child around safely or use the money to pay to have my teeth fixed which will be no less then 13 k, then she will write me out of the will.
    I did look at her with disgust as when I was in college I took care of my Grandparents as they grew sicker and eventually died and expected no fiscal reward and always said I would take. Are of them as they grew older and the fact she thought the “inheritance” which is worth at least 10 million in my share alone after taxes and includes everything from rental buildings, homes around the world, etc I could not give one damn about the money.
    I would have liked a mother that loved me. I would have liked a mother that wasn’t so focused in my childhood about how miserable work was and Inwas lucky to
    Have had other mentors so I looked forward to
    A job. And she has spent the last 3 weeks crying and pouting she was loosing her job and Infind her one
    Today and she then goes from victim of a job loss to
    “It doesn’t matter anyway” as I can get unemployment for a couple months then take social security due to her age.
    Frankly I don’t think I will outlive her, I found out tonight that the money in the inheritance is going to be split more than 2 wars to include my Dad’s sister who
    Always gets the inheritance from
    Relatives after death and turns around and writes the check
    To her siblings as their Dad was a jerk.
    So, are my parents as POA allowed to benefit financially off of
    me With 6-8% interest rates on money, can they just assume that all child support payments are theirs, can they just get rid of all my belongings without allowing me to sell them and can she continue to refuse to answer or
    In her accounting program how a debt that was at 55k in 2015 grew to 66k as of today?
    Also, I am very unwell and the only person who will get the short end is my daughter. However, since she took the credit card and car use corn/ miles a day 4 days a week where I paid into gas, repairs, etc can I really believe that not
    Investing in a car with maintenance program for
    5 years and having my teeth restored for
    Health reasons really not to mention other medical expenses and tax expenses to super see what I need and the order in which the SSDI folks state I am to spend money?
    I did record the conversation where I was given all these ultimatums and demands today.
    Please advise.

    1. You need a lawyer to advise you. Agents under a Durable Power of Attorney can be held liable for the management of funds in their care. POAs can also be revoked. Your lawyer may discuss a voluntary guardianship with you, where you replace your mother with a professional guardian who holds your mother to account for all she has done. Please find a lawyer as soon as you can.

  22. Hello,

    Just to warn grieving families, my husband passed away suddenly at our home. His personal belongings were returned to me by the funeral home, his wallet was returned with 2 five dollar bills. I just recently found out that the police detective who came to our house advised my husband’s brother there was $300 in my husband’s pocket, not in his wallet. I never received the $300 from the funeral home so I can only assume someone (it could have been anyone) took it from my beloved husband. Several years have passed since then, I don’t care about the money but it makes me so very sad that someone would do this, how could anyone do such a thing! I have not told our children, who are young adults as it would really, really bother them. My only reason for writing this email is to make families aware and I truly hope it never happens to them. Take care.

    1. Hello Wendy, I am sad that you had to experience this theft at such a sorrow-filled time in your life. I think thefts by people who are entrusted to care for the bodies of our loved ones are the hardest to bear. Your story is a needed warning to us all to hold everyone who cares for the body of our loved ones to accountability for treatment of the body and any valuables on the body/in the clothing. One way to do that is to ask that your loved one be undressed at home, if fully clothed, and sent to the funeral home in basic clothing (sweatpants, t-shirt) until you can deliver whatever you want them buried/cremated in. And never allow funeral home employees to be alone with a body in a bedroom where valuables are out in the open (jewelry box, rings on bureau, wallet/money clip on top of dresser). I know this is hard to do, but removing tempting valuables from the body and in the room or being present and watchful are the only ways I know to preserve respect for the deceased and their possessions. I hope you are able to heal from this breach of trust. Take care!

  23. Hi I entered into a rental agreement with a dead guy! lol 5/2012 entered into rental agreement with LeVass Properties (name changed). recently, considering the landlord is a jerk to my autistic roommate, and coerced and bullied my autistic roommate into giving the landlord a 30 day notice to vacate!!! sooo, to help my autistic friend, i looked the name of the business up on the california secretary of state, for the Statement of Information to find the owner or agent of process info, to no avail. I looked up the name of the business on Orange County’s Fictitious Business Name Search, to no avail. No record… which led me to look up the name of the business in the City of Garden Grove, in which i found it. Donald H. LeVass sole owner of LeVass Properties. Donald H. LeVass dba LeVass Properties. Well good old Donald passed away in 2010 per public records, a good. 2 yrs before my agreement was entered into. Per the clerk, if Donald passed, he would not be “sole owner”, it would say “trust” instead. Well my autistic roommate and i have paid over $109,000.00 in rent to LeVass Properties in the last 5 years. I wrote a demand letter to the landlord. He called me and said speak to my lawyer. but of course the hot head failed to give me his lawyers name. lol. I believe we may be served soon with a UD. Please help. Do we have a case against LeVass Properties, and the agent we have been dealing with is misrepresenting owning the dba that died when Donald died. I feel as if the agent is hiding something! I am typing up a Complaint for Breach of Contract, Unjust Enrichment, etc…

  24. My grandfather passed in Nampa, Idaho. We live in Mississippi and could not get their until 3 months later to take care of the property but a neighbor said that she took care of him and would help have the electric turned off and cleaner the fridge out so nothing would spoil. My father graciously accepted the offer. When my father tried to call her, they couldn’t get an answer and my dad was headed up there. Suddenly get a call for my dad to not bother even coming because there was nothing in the house. Shocked, my father the next morning drove there. He couldn’t get into the house because the neighbor had the key and wouldn’t give it to him and noticed my grandfathers truck in their driveway which still
    Is right now. He called a locksmith and police came and said by law he couldn’t do so and had to provide some proof, paperwork or something. Next day, he gets in the house and all appliances were gone, furniture, electronics…everything is gone. My father confronted them, angry and asked why his fathers truck was in their driveway. They said that my grandfather gave them the truck which is impossible. The lawyer we had there said that it was not yet registered in their name but the police say they can’t do anything since it’s their word against a dead person and is basically theirs now. They won’t do anything to help and get annoyed when my father asks for an investigation. After 4th time trying to file a report, they say say it’s a civil court matter and police can’t do anything about it. My dad is literally broke now from paying a lawyer that didn’t do anything, a yard guy charging him 1500.00 to cut the yard and plumber charging 1000.00 to drain the hot water heater. The real estate agent I feel also is taking advantage of this whole situation since he was the one that chose the lawn man. The yard is stupidly small that you could cut with a pair of scissors. We don’t care about the truck anyways but it’s how they went about taking it and no Justice for theft. No help from police at all. We want to see these people behind bars and if possible, sue the crap out of them. Never have I heard of anything like this happening. Oh and what makes this funny is that my yard is bigger than my grandfathers but costs 30 dollars every 2 weeks to care for. I am livid and sick to my stomach, sad for my father to not only have to deal with his fathers passing but to be stolen from. Is there a certain type of lawyer they need to go after these people? Police report was filed but other attempts to file another, the police stopped him.

    1. Elisha, I’m so, so sorry that this has happened to your Dad and your family. The probate lawyer may be able to recover your grandfather’s will, and if it shows that he intended all property to go to your Dad, that may help. The other is to look at the land deed to see if your grandfather signed a deed gifting the property to the neighbor – and land records are public documents so your Dad or his lawyer has access to those records. It is very hard to prove that the neighbor “unduly influenced” the elder into giving them all his property because this theft usually has no witnesses. The sad part of all this is that your Dad was so far away, and his father was clearly a vulnerable elder. The police are right – this is a civil court matter. If at civil court/probate the lawyer can show to a judge that this was a theft from a vulnerable elder, the judge can order property to be recovered to the estate. But this is a very expensive path to take for a very uncertain outcome – these cases are just hard to prove. The type of lawyer who handles this situation is usually a probate litigation attorney with experience in financial exploitation of elders. Again, I’m so sorry this happened to your family – betrayal on top of loss is heartbreaking. But please make sure your family learns a lesson here – everyone over 18 should have their legal affairs in order – at least put pay on death beneficiaries on your checking/savings accounts, talk with each other about what you want to have happen to your possessions when you are gone. Everyone should have a will, they are simple documents to complete and not expensive to do. In some states you can even handwrite your own will and have a witness sign it – these are known as holographic wills, they are NOT admissible in courts in all states so check with a lawyer or read your state laws on whether these are allowed.

  25. Hi, I am in need of advice. My brother just recently passed away and his girlfriend who stayed with him took his bank card the day after his passing and took $1500 out of his account. Also my mother who is bedridden lived with him she also took her bank card out of her purse and stole $3000 out of her account. She rented a storage unit and paid for it using my mother’s bank card. I have taken my mother to stay with me and when I went back to their house all the stuff was gone and moved into this storage unit… I have notified the banks my mom’s bank said it didn’t constitute fraud because the girlfriend knew my mom’s pin number but my mom did not give her the card. I notified the police but it has been 2 months and they still have not contacted me. She took all our family possessions that have been in the family for more than 75 years heirlooms and the police do nothing. Please help as we had to use all our money to pay for my brothers funeral while she is spending the money. I am beside myself. Now I am in debt and can’t get help.

    1. Hi Karen, Please contact the local Council on Aging (sometimes called the Area Agency on Aging) to see if they can help your Mom (who I assume is over 60 yrs of age). They should have contacts with both the Adult Protective Services in your state (they investigate financial crimes against elders) and perhaps with Legal Aid (they usually have a Senior Citizens/Elder Law project that takes on cases for free). You could also check with the county bar association to see if there are any lawyers who take these cases on for free. I hope someone locally can help you get law enforcement or a civil court (your Mom may need to sue to recover these items and money) can help. The problem may be that you are not your Mom’s guardian or Agent under a Power of Attorney, so unless you “legally” represent your Mom, the police and others may be wary of getting involved in what looks like a family dispute. I hope Legal Aid or a pro bono lawyer can help you – but the fastest way to get those types of lawyers is to start with the council on aging (and they are a free service in every county in US).

  26. Hello,
    My name is Frank M. My Father passed 23 years ago. His Executrix was his girlfriend whom insisted they marry several months before he knew he would be dead from cancer. Out of about 2,000,000 each of 10 children have received $1,500 and we are David Fighting Goliath. She factually committed fraud, large scale, prior to his death, had tried to marry 2 x prior in similar situations, has emptied a trust intended for the children, has not accounted for 23 years, though legally requested and required by the will and continues to behave fraudulently eg; 16 alias names, 15 phone #s, fake companies on and on. The State has no interest in helping, CAN I CONTACT A FEDERAL BRANCH TO HELP? Thank you, please advise. A sad friend

    1. Hi Frank, so sorry for the delay in responding to your question. 23 years is a very long time to be fighting with a trustee in a court. I don’t know what state you are in but usually judges to make executors account for funds annually if a matter is before the court. I have no experience with a probate matter going more than a few years – usually everyone wants to end the court process and take their inheritance. You might check out my friend Brett’s blog, There are volunteers (accountants to lawyers to financial experts) who assist people caught in these cases. I hope that helps!

  27. Our mom passed in Oct., ’17 in CA and my brother produced a “will” saying he is Executor and can stay in the house he’s been living in, rent-free, as long as he pays the taxes and maintains upkeep. Come to find out: 1. His grown son and girl friend who were living w/mom at her house as “live-in care-takers” only neglected her. 2. The doctor said she had severe malnutrition, a heart attack, congest. heart failure, dehydration, black legs from adv. diabetes, etc. Bro. had her on life support 5 days even tho’ she had a DNR. 3. My aunt went to mom’s afterward and saw no bedsheets, water or meds in her room, filthy house, yard and trees dead. Bro took $ from her account the day after she died and for a wk before the acct was closed, changed the locks and wouldn’t let the Reverse Mort. guy in or let sisters clean the house claiming they were stealing. Broke in and stole undetermined things to take to his hoarder house where the roof has caved in in the back rooms, and wouldn’t let the appt’d. Fudiciary in his house. Claimed mom bought him his new truck and wanted to give his son her car. 3 family members know that was not mom’s signature on the fake will but nobody has seen the will she made naming me the Exec. years ago altho’ s she told us about it. Sister not willing spend $ to get Dr. testimony on neglect. Bro fears losing his free ride, possibly knew mom was going to sell both houses to live in a nice retirement home. He’s an alcoholic and has even convinced his kids we’re greedy because we want to fix up and sell both houses so says he won’t be happy until he makes his sister run up a lg lawyer bill which means everybody loses. We have to now go to court to get him out of his hoarder house before the neighbors place another lien on it as a health hazard.

    1. Hi Dawn, I am so sorry that your family is forced to deal with this situation on top of the loss of your mother. And if she was neglected (and I’ve been involved in horrific cases of elder neglect/abuse), that makes it even harder to cope with what your brother is doing. I still urge you to go find an attorney who can go into court and demand that the lawyer who drafted the will appear to verify it. You could hire an attorney to handle a “limited appearance” for challenging the will/your brother as executor and that could be done with a limited range of cost to you all. If you can get the will tossed out then it would be a chance to “reset” the situation, even if you have to use a neutral party to serve as the administrator of the estate. Again, an attorney familiar with probate can give you advice. Best of luck to you –

  28. My elderly Dad was once a victim of these scams but with the help of a recovery expert we were able to recover his money, i am so glad to share and experience and to sensitive the evil going on out there.

  29. My wife and I were my mother in laws care giver for 10 years before she passed away in Oct 2017. My wife has been very ill herself for several years and asked for help the last 3 years from her siblings but they offered no help, they live out of state. About two weeks before her death my sister in law came up and shut my wife out convincing the mother that we were out for her money and we were not allowed up to see her even when she went into a Hospice facility. My wife was unable to see her mother the last two weeks of her life. Two days before her death my wife was taken off as Co-Trustee and executor of the will. Thankfully her lawyer who came to the Hospice facility I guess told her to put him as the executor of the will which he is. It started several months before this when my mother in law was on an extended visit to my sister in laws, we had received a couple notices that her checking account (which was a joint account with my wife) was overdrawn. We went to the bank to investigate more and found that a check for $5000 was written to my sister in law, there was another check writer for $2000 to my sister in law that had not cleared yet so we stopped payment. We then looked at the bank statements and credit card statements that had over $23K charges to restaurants, shopping etc. That’s just a little history and part of why I think my sister in law attached us later. Here is my question. I’m very suspicious of my sister in law and we don’t want to be involved with her at all so my wife is opting out of any personal items from her moms in the distribution. My mother in law had two trust, a personal and large trust which are both being distributed into three different trust, on for my wife and the other two for her sister and brother. I did a little investigating on county records on my sister in law and she paid off her mortgage of $168K and a $45,000 line of credit less then a week after my mother in laws death. This makes me very suspicious because there is no way she had the money to do this as she could barely pay her mortgage and she charged airline tickets and shopping at Walmart the day after my mother in laws death. Is there anyway of finding out if there was a bank account my mother in law had without us knowing but maybe telling her other daughter about at the end of her life?

  30. My eldest sister currently lives with my mother who has stopped talking to all of her family except the sister who is living with her and her family. We are concerned that she will drain my mother’s bank account once she passes. My sister’s family has been involved in utility fraud, passing bad checks, opening credit cards with other people’s social security numbers, drug abuse arrests, assaults, and removal of money from another family member’s account after their death. Because none of us are on my mom’s accounts, we have been told there is nothing we can do to protect my mother’s accounts. She does have an attorney who is acting as her POA, but he does not take any of our concerns seriously. We believe someone has already tried to open an online banking account in her name, initially without being successful. Although I do not believe my mom would give this information to my sister willingly, her paperwork is easily accessible. SSN and bank account numbers can be found easily in various places around her home. What are our options?

    1. You have several options available to you to protect your mother. First, you could file an anonymous complaint with the Adult Protective Services department in the state in which she is currently residing stating your concerns that your Mom may be financially exploited by your sister, and they should investigate. APS should not reveal who filed the complaint. Second, you could hire a lawyer and petition for guardianship over your mother at the local county probate court or court of “jurisdiction” – some states do not have probate courts, they hear all guardianship cases in their superior court system. But you should call a lawyer. Your mother would be evaluated for mental capacity for needing such a guardianship but that would mean that someone would be appointed by the court to oversee her care and her finances. Third, go see your mother’s attorney who is acting as POA with any evidence you think you have of people trying to open online identities. While they may not take her money, they could apply for credit in her name. One thing I do often is to have the Agent/Executor/Guardian file notices with the 3 credit reporting agencies that no new lines of credit of any form (credit card, mortgage, car loan, personal loan) should be issued under your mother’s Social Security Number. I hope that is helpful to you. Thank you for visiting the blog and leaving this question as that is how we all learn.

  31. Thank you Paula. You have recommended several new and viable options to be considered. I greatly, appreciate your willingness to share your expertise!

  32. So to make a complicated story short, My uncle befriended a man who took care of him his last 7 months. This friend took my uncle to an attorney and had him draw up a will. I was not even notified of my uncles ill health or passing. I happened to see his obit the day before his funeral. Needles to say his friend and the funeral director(who also is a friend of his) Was surprised my uncle had any family. When I asked who wrote his obituary , I was told my uncle did. The obituary had My Grandmothers name as Martha, her name was Laura, and a few other odd things. I even made them fix his death certificate. When I asked about why my Uncle didn’t know his own mothers name ,they said he was confused most often! But , he could sign a new will!!!!! And now , even before any thing is filed in probate this friend has removed cars and personal items from the estate, most likely the original will that my uncle had shown me years ago giving things to his sisters.

  33. Thank you for posting this informative blog. It is a much needed resource for people who are dealing with wills, inheritance and the theft of property before and after death.
    I would be willing to bet that there is a often a long and hidden history of dysfunction when inheritance theft involves a family. I personally know of several cases of a Narcissistic Personality Disordered parent who, through deception and pretense, ends up disinheriting an innocent “scapegoated” child in an effort to deflect blame or seek revenge for an imagined slight. The disinherited person is caught unaware and has a deep sense of shame and betrayal and does not have the emotional stamina to fight for his/her rights.
    Courts do not litigate morality. Thankfully there are now stricter laws being passed in most states that better protect elders and rightful heirs.
    May I offer a couple of suggestions to add to your list of things that might help? First, I believe that after writing a will and trust, communicating openly about what is in them is important. It may seem uncomfortable but if it can go far to help your loved ones avoid confusion and shattered relationships. So be transparent and tell your beneficiaries what to expect. Call a meeting with all beneficiaries present, in person or via Skype or telephone conference call. Tell them so they will have a clear understanding of your plan of distribution and let them know you are counting on all of them to help each other to fulfill your wishes.
    Never assume that you can predict what a person, even a close relative, will do if given the opportunity to steal what is not meant for him/her. Encourage questions and comments.
    One final comment i’d Like to make is that people who steal inheritances do it because they believe they can get away with it. If everyone is informed at an open meeting, it can’t help but reduce the chances that you or they will be a victim of crimes that may even go undetected.
    Also, I believe that if victims speak out about their experiences, it helps. Again, thank you for your insight, suggestions and expertise.

  34. I have been sitting here for a while now reading all of the above stories of deceit and inheiritance.
    I would like to share my story with everyone and hopefully gain some advice and input as to how to handle my situation. My mother passed away August, 2015. My 15 year old child and I had been her caregivers since June, 2010. This is when we moved in with her. My mother was a cancer patient. We had been on this heartbreaking journey of chemo treatments with my mother for many months which turned into several years. My son just in high school and I due to auto accident am disabled drawing disability and managed to continuously care for my mother. we were very close. It has been an honor to be able to spend this special time with my mother. I have three other siblings. I have always helped my parents with all of their business finances when they had their own landscaping and excavating business for 18 successful years. Quiet a large business with approximately 60 employees at times. I was the office manager/payroll clerk/human resource/bookkeeper, etc.. I also handled their personal finances. The doctors discovered that my mother had a hole in her heart. She had surgery and had to turn over all financial responsibilities to me l, of course under her supervision being well trained and final decision making. Eventually, she trained me well enough to carry on the majority of the decision making for the best interest of their personal and our family business. Unfortunately, my father became ill also and I had close down the family business. My father passed away in 2005. Backing up a few years to 2003 I was going through a very corrupt political divorce with two beautiful baby boys. One was 10 years old the other was 2 years old. This point in time was whenever my parents wanted to have me do up a will for them with me as executor for I am the only child knowledgeable of most all of their financial affairs. In panic I suggested for now that my sister should be listed as executor at least until my divorce was over. And then is when we would change the executor of their will to myself. So no corruption could spill over into my families business. My sister never worked in our family business so she was not familiar with any of the finances. Well as time goes by after my fathers death and just before my mother’s passing, we remembered about the will. My mother asked me if I would help my sister with the will if she wasn’t able to get the will done listing me as executor before she passed on. she was very ill for a long time. I told her of course I will. Expecting my sister to get with me on everything regarding our parents last wishes. Well, my sister to this day has not mentioned nor inquired my knowledge in helping her settle the will. I do know that she asked my two brothers to meet with her about reading the will without me present. One of my brothers refused because he new this was wrong. My child and I had been living with my mother for the past 5 years caring for her. All three of my siblings had their own homes with their significant others/spouses. My mother’s last wish was for my child and I to remain in her home for eternity of my life and for my brothers to divide tools and my sister and I to divide the contents of the home. My sister didn’t want any of the contents to start with but I talked her into at least going through their things together she may want to keep something sentimental. But the division of things was to take place after paying all her debts. Well, My mother had a few thousand dollars in her checking account and a safe deposit box with items in it to be divided amongst us four. Due to my sister’s and my name on her account at the bank my sister withdrawals all the money and closes the account. Then notifies the bank of her death. She then cleans out the safety deposit box at another bank and afterwards notifies them of our mother’s passing. My mother had insurance policies at the time of her death. She had a car in which was totaled in an accident. She give to my older brother to scrap. My parents had a burial policies. My mother had her casket already picked out from years before whenever we bought their policies. My sister claimed that the casket she picked out had been discontinued so we each had to pay a fourth of 2,000.0 to purchase her another one. So the last retirement check my mother received from social security was spklit between the four of us and my sister requested we each cash our portion and give it back to her for thi payment. We did. When I asked her about the money in the bank she claims to have paid off mother’s credit cards. She only had two credit cards apoix, 920.00 the other maybe 400.00 to 500.00 owed on it but those credit cards had coverage of up to 10,000.00 each life policies on them. Also later she claimed the funeral home had mailed her a 2,000.00 check. She gave my older brother the tools valued at about 20,000.00 and claimed mother had verbally given her her turn on a dime riding lawnmower valued at apprx. 800.00. But a week after our mother’s passing my brother and his girlfriend were evicted from their home and barged in on my child and I and took over my childs bedroom without consulting with us. And he had my brother and sister on the phone telling me that they had just as much right to our mom’s home as I did. But was only gonna be there for a couple weeks until they could find them elsewhere to live. I had been paying the house payments since my child and I moved in. They however didnt’t pay rent until they were there for a month. Which we are to split the rent which is 360.00. My child and I were doing fine in able to pay the full house payment and utilities before they came. But after they were their a month the utilities began to run up higher and higher each month in which we are to split also. But the utilities just the power bill went from 120.00 up to 600.00 in one month. We cannot afford to no longer pay half utilities. They were having shady company coming over all hours of the day and night. Also they moved their two dogs in in which they did NOT take outside to use the bathroom. Instead they taped puppy pads to the floor in their bedroom for the dogs to go pee and poop . The house is carpeted mind you. Our home began smelling horrible. They were yelling and fusing and fighting each other all hours and my child is attending high school at this time. It got so bad that my child had to gio and stay with a friend neighbor and I had to go stay with friends while we are waiting for them to move out. As months go by, I see they are blowing their money trashing our home. They have two incomes and we only have my disability of 800.00 monthly coming in. My pain in my back and neck was progressing due to me not able to sleep in my bed. Also, I discovered that they were going through everything of my child’s and mine and everything of my mother’s in which I hadn’t had a chance to go through yet. They had no right to plunder. They were dumpster diving and began hoarding and cluttering up our carport. The city ordinance police citated our home. multiple times for them to clean out their hoarding clutter which was unhealthy and our neighbors were complaining health hazard. It has been one thing after the other on an on negativeness. AMy child and I were forced to get our beds out and our clothes due to fleas and their way of living/unhealthy. It’s been a year this past August they have been in our home ruining it. What cn we do about this? Can we get them out some legal way? Please advise! Our bedrooms are now cluttered to the ceiling with their stuff leaving us homeless or to where we can’t move our beds and belongings back home. We homestead my mother’s home as she wished but now have been forced out what can we do to get our lives back? HELP! oH ONE MORE THING, THERE WERE 2 OR 3 BILLS OF MY MOTHER’S A CABLE BILL AND I THINK A PHONE BILL THAT GOT RAN UP TO SEVERAL HUNDRED THAT MY SISTER TOLD ME THAT I HAD TO HAVE TRANSFERRED INTO MY NAME SINCE I WAS LIVING THERE AT THE TIME THE BILLS WERE ACCUMULATED OR I HAD TO MOVE OUT SO IN FEAR OF MY CHILD AND I BEING HOMELESS I HAD THESE BILLS TRANSFERRED INTO MY NAME WHICH ARE NOW ON MY CREDIT REPORT DUE TO MY LOW INCOME AND UNABLE TO PAY. PLEASE HELPUS! What can be done? Also, they ran bills up in my name while my child and I were staying with friends in which they refused to pay so I hd to have all utilities cut off and am niw left with a 200.00 water bill. HELP HELP SOMEONE PLEASE ADVISE.

  35. My sister is a nurse who has asked my dad for money or financial help her entire life. When my dad remarried he had moved away. Neither my sister nor I were in his life very much for almost 30 years. We both came back into his life when his wife passed leaving him elderly and alone. He and I were very close when I was young, so we picked up where we left off. I had forgiven him for all he did as a younger man and was ready for a relationship with my dad.. He and I shared many of the same interests and we spent a few months a year for the past 6 years having fun. My Dad lives in Florida and I live in the NorthEast. I began visiting him for weeks at a time several times a year. We talk on the phone three or four times a week. My younger sister( we have different mothers and NEVER knew each other until we all reunited after my dad’s wife died.) had been periodically visiting with dad, anytime she needed money. Every time we were both visiting my Dad, she began asking me weird questions. Would you be able to share the house? saying out loud “Now I’ll have to share”. Every visit she made a comment about dad’s money or his house, the will. I even brought a close friend to visit with me and they were astounded how she blatantly talked about his will even though we just got him back and he was still very much alive. Kinda sickened us. Her relationship with him is fake. She visited him once a year and called him once a month. They share no interests. Anyway 5 years into the relationship my dad started getting very verbally abusive towards me. He was horrible to me. Other People witnessed it. I was under attack. He began saying SOMEONE tells me you’ve been saying bad things about me.. I was stumped. devastated. it got so horrible I stopped visiting and even stopped calling on the phone. Seems my sister had her heart set on inheriting everything. she caused a HUGE issue with my dad last year. She was filling his head with unbelievable things. I only recently found out she had been hacking my phone and my computer to “get any useful info she could” to keep me away from my father. I felt bullied, as they both personal info and business info. I felt raped when I found out they had hacked my phone. listening to my calls, turning on the web cam, reading my text messages. and watching my household. She must have told him lots because, In the end, my dad was commenting to me in a nasty way about things only people in my bedroom would know. My Dad died this week, we never spoke again since Feb 2017. From what I’ve been told my sister is both Powers of Attorney and executor. My dad’s best friend has said hundreds of thousands of dollars have disappeared. He said she inherited the bulk but that some money was put aside for me. But that money might be missing too. I know I should contest the will, but is there ever a way to get back anything. She seems to have bought a new house a few months ago. What can I do? Any help will be appreciated .

    1. Hi Joanne, you should seek legal counsel in the county in which your father died and see if you can contest her appointment as executor and demand an accounting from her in the estate process for how she may have handled funds as Agent under the Power of Attorney you indicated she had over your father’s wealth prior to his death. And please do this asap if you wish to confront her because each day that passes is a day she can transfer wealth to herself. Best of luck to you!

    2. A friend of mine past away and another friend took his car, who is not related and it was not left to him. What can I do to stop this?

      1. Find out who your friend named to be his executor, or find a member of his immediate family (if the person doesn’t have a will, then their possessions go to their immediate family) and tell them about the car. You can also go to the police and see if they will take a report from you about the car being taken. Thank you for stepping up to protect your friend’s estate!

  36. My only brother died from drinking himself to death in Dallas on March 18 2018. His body was not even cremated and someone came around and kicked down his door and looted his place. Then when his lots were put up for sale, a parade of criminals, a circus of fools went in and stole what they could carry away. They also stole the traps that I hired someone to lay to catch the last of his 9 cats, I fear with the new traps the cats will be vulnerable to a criminal and face a horrible death. So hate Dallas and what they did to my brother. And not pertaining to robbers, but when my brother went in for is gangrene foot, and drunk, he woke up and he pulled the tubes out of his arms, and went into the hall to watch a spectacle of the doctors and nurses imitating him, humiliating him, shaming him and dancing round with their leg up. Is this as good as it gets Dallas? Is this how doctors who take oaths to heal act? I am coming after all of you. So no other family member has to face morons, who lost their moral compass. A better suited job for you doctors is cleaning toilets. It did not matter if he was drunk, you should treat everyone with care. He was ready to sober up and then you betrayed him and he went home with his gangrene leg and died.

  37. My mother died on May 5, 2017. My sister predeceased her by one year. Myself and 4 grandchildren (per stirpes) are my mothers sole survivors. My mother left a will designating that all her assets be divided 50% to me and 50% to be divided evenly to the remainders. The Executor of my mothers will predeceased her and I was court appointed as the Administrator of the estate. I had a copy of her Will and copies of all her financial assets which I froze pending claims. For one year prior to my mother’s death her live-in caretaker was the Guardian/Conservator (also the wife of one of the grandsons) of my mothers affairs. Her bond was self-recognizance (which is toothless). My mother was in full blown dementia during that year. I do retain an attorney for the Estate. The point of this post is to advise ANYONE with a vested interest in an Estate to immediately petition the court for Guardian/Conservatorship even though, like me, you live many miles away. In-home care is less expensive than the thousands of dollar that was stolen from my mother’s estate by the people you would least expect. Earlier on this blog it was said “People steal because they think they can get away with it.” That is so true. It isn’t even the dollar amount of the theft which I will recover during the settlement phase of probate. It’s the violation of trust and the irrevocable divisions in what was once a family united.

  38. I’m a maintenance man for an apartment building. In December one of our long term residents passed away. He had no family that I’m aware of. About a week or two after his death his apartment was broke into. No police report was filed. I recently found evidence that this was commited by a friend who was staying with me at the time. I’m devastated but I’m mad more than anything. I tried contacting the police but they wouldn’t even send someone out to make a report because “I’m not part of the estate”. I confronted my friend who did not deny his actions and said it was a victimless crime. That pissed me off even more. Who can I go to so he can be held accountable. The evidence I found shows that his bank cards have about 70 grand on them. I need assistance on this

    1. Thank you for caring about this resident in your building. If you know that your friend stole Social Security money, or the resident’s identity in order to transfer funds from the resident’s bank to this “friend’s” personal account, you can report him to, to the banks involved, and to the FBI (wire and money fraud cases over $75,000 may be of interest to them to investigate and prosecute under federal criminal law). If this resident had any extended family – nephew/niece, cousins – you could report it to them. If a probate estate can be opened by either yourself or a relative, then the executor could file a police report AND an insurance report (renter’s insurance?). Sometimes insurance companies investigate the thefts and try to recover the money. You can also call the state bar to see if there is a lawyer in your area willing to help you make these reports. It’s very hard to bring someone like your friend to face consequences of these actions, and even harder to recover the funds or property stolen. Thank you for taking the time to care and research options.

      1. Thank you for the information. I’m not concerned with recovering any of the funds simply because I have no entitlement to them. I feel that he should be held accountable for his disgraceful actions. It’s that simple.

  39. My deceased Mom had WWII momentos stolen. The police have recovered them and want to release them bjut require a court document to show I am now rightful owner. I have 2 brothers and they sole from Mom before her death. If they could be found they might also claim ownership. these are of sentimental value to me. What can I do?

  40. I discovered in 2015 and 2016, the deplorarable truth regarding the events involving the stealing of my inheritance which is the root of my long going legal battle I have been in for the past 20 years. In 1998 I discovered this woman Betty Garmond aka Betty Thomas aka Betty Roberts forged my grand father’s name in a fraud will, on a partnership agreement, open veterans benefits, deed giving her as a gift the 2 acres of land my grandmother and grandfather agreed to sell her 5 months prior. I later discovered a forged gas, mineral and oil lease, in addition to the 4 mineral, gas and oil leases of my grand parents. Please note my grandmother who was in much better physical and mental condition than my grandfather, under peculiar circumstances was found dead 21/2 months after agreeing to sale. I filed the handwriting expert’s affidavit along with these evidence exhibits and the judge granted the defendants a Baseless cause, No Evidence Summary Judgment. I appealed and am awaiting a righteous judgment in my favor from the u s courts.
    Please note from civil suit filed in 1998 for forgery, fraud will, etc. the courts listed this type of case as commercial contract.????
    Please note In 2014 from Bill of Review civil suit same type of Order issued by judge Rudy Ruiz.
    Please note I also filed an original civil suit against my dad’s estate, my nephew and neighbor/ cousin for fraud and sale of inheritance property and the buyers for breach of contract. The alive defendants did not appear neither answered in over 1 year. At the trial hearing that they were notified of I presented an affidavit proofing I served all defendants, I moved for default judgment. Judge Ruiz verbally granted my judgment and quit/ retired before reducing it to writing. I have been ordered to court and continued asking for my judgment to be reduced to writing. I have requested over and over for my 72 million dollar judgment to be signed. I appealed.
    In 2015 to 2016, after going back and forth in the fort bend and Harris county and being yelled at and threatened to be thrown in jail when I had not done anything wrong, in fact the wrongs were committed against my children, my business and I thought obeying the laws was the proper thing to do but witnessed and experienced breaking the laws was what’s happening in the courts by individuals who swore to uphold and defend the claimed governing laws. The amount of land and location sends my mind over the scale of calculating the true monetary amount of my grand parents estate because the Factor of forged testimentary documents make all the orders granting favor to criminal Betty Garmond, Pete Navarro and James Baker and etal. stole 460 screams of land, emptied 3 bank accounts, stole mineral, gas and oil leases, stole gems personal property and demolisioned their built from the ground 19 year old house and finalized the chapter with bed ridden Reverand Jesse Brookins falling on a gas heater and suffered a heart attack, him having old a new bed sores in her coerced care. He passed away and she and Pete Navarro filed the fraud and forged Will and Judge A Reagan Clark signed the order transferring all of our inheritance over to like minded thieves with in 4 months.

    Final note: I have been falsely accused of multiple crimes, I’ve been falsely arrested for multiple crimes and forced into destitution . I can’t fight false charges brought against my son who Fort Bend is holding under 150,000 dollar bond. I would appreciate any help I can get, consulting, financial and representative assistance.

    Thanks for the forum
    Rita Lemons

  41. Please help. My father knew he would be murdered. Before i found out he was dead they stole everything.
    It took me years and know i have proof of what was stolen. What can i do now?

    1. Steve, I think the only course of action you have is to consult with a lawyer in the county of the state in which your Dad died. State law governs something called the Statute of Limitations on crime (theft) and it will depend on whether the people who took possessions/money were serving your father in any fiduciary capacity (Power of Attorney Agent, Guardian, Trustee). The civil process would be to open an estate in the county in which your father died and try to demand the return of the stolen items. But again, a lawyer practicing probate law in that county would be able to guide you. Take care of yourself in all this –

  42. Paula…what is the best way to contest a temporary conservatorship when the perpetrator (a Beneficiary/Trustee/sister) has effectively utilized this strategy (linked URL) to take unscrupulous advantage of both my mother’s estate & person?

    1. I suggest you get a very good litigator (probate litigation expert/with experience in challenging fiduciaries on their conduct) ASAP. Get an analysis of whether there are actions taken that rise to criminal acts at either state or federal level under the various laws that govern financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Fight, fight like your mother’s life depends on this fight – because in many ways it just might. You can check ou the website to find probate/estate lawyers in the county in which this conservatorship was issues and start there looking for a courtroom saavy litigator.

  43. can a sister steal her deceased sisters & brother in laws graves and give them to her kids

    1. Hello Diane, I’m not exactly sure what you are asking with this question. If the issue is grave plots that are not “full” or have not been used at all, then the Estate of the last deceased owner can request the right of burial to be transferred to remaining living descendants or siblings if there are no descendants. It all depends on the state in which the cemetery is located, whether an estate has to be opened in court to make the transfer and the deed to the plot(s) issued by the cemetery itself.

  44. I hope ur still around? My Stepmom & Dad made a Will up with a exc over 30yrs plus ago. In this Will they stated that everything like property, assets, bank-accounts, ira, money markets etc to be divided evenly between 5 kids. They even verbally said over & over throughout my life and others that this goes only to the KIDS!! No Wife’s, Husbands, or Grandchildren!! My stepmom passed before my dad. He sold the house and bought another over near his 2 blood kids. The Granddaughter ( not blood related) came out and talked him into living with her in a funky used trailer on her property back over in Oregon. He sold everything and some tools, vehicles and all other assets at that time. When he left or a few yrs prior, he had at least over a 1/4 of a million. I know he went through the money like a kid in the candy store BUT I know there was at least 70 thousand when he passed. She ended up getting him to build a 30thoudsand dollar barn and helping with other money issues. When he died we got off her property only a old car and a old trailer. The ex of the will, went there and she gave him a 3,500.00 or so money order and claimed that was all there was in the bank. Well the little cashier slip came from a whole other bank that was NOT his bank. I know that money was money he always carried with him in a wallet or envelope. She went and closed the real bank and money market and took the money. She went and bought her son a new car and said she just came into some money. The son told his grandma this (her mom whom they do not talk) She told the ex of the will that she could not get these because she closed the account. Ya right!! NOW here is the kicker and this is why we are told it is a hard case. I do understand some things , but it is SO morally wrong. I just feel I can take her to court some how and in some way we all 5 should have are rights too. My dad either did not know he set the bank account up like this or the bank might have made a mistake, no proving right now, but she was made a Co-owner. He was with it in his mind and only needed help with paying some little bills, because he had nothing by now, only help with maybe shopping or such. It is way to strange that a business man would set the account up like this and knowing what his ex-wife and he planned on where this money would go??She will NOT tell any of us anything at all. She claims she brought some assets from him but shows no Proof at all. She even deleted everything from his computer before the Representative of the Will got there. I have to travel to get to the courts over there. I need to know how WE can take her to court and get this all out in the open..She is a small town detective and uses her badge for power!!!! WHAT RIGHTS DO WE HAVE?? For yrs & yrs we had this in the back of our heads that if we do not die before our parents, that we would have some nest egg coming. Just tears me a-part. I am his blood daughter and the only one and I got NOTHING!!!!

    1. Hi Vicki, yes, I’m still here. Just away from the blog for a few weeks attending to work. I’m sorry you have experienced this family trauma – and it is a trauma. If there is an estate open and, as you say, a Representative appointed, you should be able to ask the Representative to investigate this granddaughter/woman to see if she exploited your Dad. It is very hard and expensive though as a process. And with someone like this, recovery of assets is hard to get. Staying close with elders, especially with those who are experiencing confusion, making sure that they have a Guardian to manage their money ahead of a death is the only way to protect some elders. Best advice is to share information with the Representative and push them to take all actions that they can under the law to investigate and recover assets if possible.

  45. My aunt died in Italy in 2014. I have spent about $45,000 total in legal, investigative, fees, travel, etc trying to get to this resolved. My sibs and two cousins, won over by this sociopathic neighbor, have abandoned me in my pursuit of justice. They have not paid me back, or lended any support, although they had no problem accepting the part of the inheritance from a trust that I initiated the distribution of and coordinated for all of us to receive while I was in Europe. I regrettably had to terminate both law firms and all involved because it became apparent unfortunately to all concerned that I was desperate for information and services and was naive and they were dishonest. Is there anyone you know who is competent to take on a case that is complex (involving Lichenstein, Italy, and New York) and wants to see justice carried out against a neighbor perpetrator. This perp has lied to my family and created a wedge between us, and he hasn’t communicated with any of us when the rubber of the money hit the road to the bank. There is a tremenduous, huge amount that I have left out. It would take about 90 minutes to give an overview. But if you know any legal firm that can handle the States and Italy, and Lichenstein. I’m 63 and want this to be resolved and I’m not rolling over either. But the dishonesty in the providers of services has really disgusted me. I am at a ‘superior’ level of knowledge of this on a layman’s level as I have been working about every day since 2014 to get to the bottom of this mess and injustice on my aunt who was an internationally celebrated ballet dancer and sweet soul. I think this situation is unacceptable and am not so interested in the money any more, but I want justice for my Aunt.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Lee, If you’d like to talk with me, I have some contacts in NY that may be able to take this on. I’ll email you my phone number. I’m traveling this coming week but available after 12/21.

  46. I was my Moms power of attorney and someone else got their hands on my Moms account numbers and fraudulently used her bank account. Even used her real email address and wrote checks out to cash and signed my Moms name. It would have been impossible for my mom to even write a check. I need alit of help. We are talking about $50,000 plus!!

    1. Cathy, you need a lawyer in the state where your Mom resides to guide you. This may be something you can refer for criminal prosecution because it’s identity theft and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. There are also Adult Protective Services (state investigators who look into cases just like this) you can report to – just Google that phrase for the State your Mom lives in and you should be able to find a usually toll free number to call and file a formal complaint. Move fast – this person is moving faster. You can also shut down credit in your Mom’s name by filing notice with the credit reporting bureaus – you just have to prove you are the POA. Good luck – again, move FAST!

  47. Even if someone is named as an executor on a will, can they legally physically enter the decedent’s property before they have been officially named executor of the estate and have gone through the probate process? Are there steps one can take to prevent one from entering a residence before probate has been granted? The named executor on the will is not a direct family member but is supposedly a DPOA and is indicated as such on the death certificate. Does a DPOA have specific rights that allow for this?

    1. Generally, yes they can go into a property to secure the contents of the home (e.g. check heat/fuel levels in winter, make sure they have the immediate bills of the person who has died, get clothing for burial, check for pre-need burial directions, secure/care for any animals living in the home, clear out refrigerator/take out garbage). But they should not be removing personal possessions. They should be taking inventory. If you are a beneficiary, talk with a probate attorney about filing a motion for accounting by this person for their time as Power of Attorney so that the Estate can verify use of funds by them as Agent and ask they be only made conditional/special administrator and not named as Executor until this accounting has been produced and consented to IF you are fearful they have misused money, taken items. I hope that’s helpful. People often fail to get that final accounting by the DPOA and that’s where misuse of funds can occur.

  48. My husband is the executor of his father’s estate, his father died 4 years ago. He and his brother are the only heirs (50/50). His brother asked if his oldest son (40 year old) could move into the family home while we decided what to do with the house- part of the reason was to provide security and we would not have to remove anything from the house. My husband’s father was an art and antiques dealer, he specialized in sterling silver. Together (husband, his brother, sister-in-law and me) we had gone through some of the art and silver and boxed it up while we decided what to do with it (auction/keep/etc.). Recently, I discovered that my nephew was stashing away some of the silver and then selling it, along with some art pieces, on an internet website. The amount I was able to total up was over $27,000. I believe there is more that I have not uncovered, we also don’t know if he got appropriate value for the items. He also stole a silver art piece from my house and had it listed for sale on an internet website. that’s how I uncovered all of this- I had been looking on internet auction sites for it or a replacement. He has been living in the house for more than 3 years without rent. His mom does want us to press charges. Also, my husband’s brother died recently, complicating things a bit more. This is all very ugly. My husband and I want to buy the house, we feel the need to be compensated for all of this. Where do we go from here?

  49. My brother and his girlfriend had stolen a lot of money from my mother checking account and had forged check and cash check after her passing and used the cash machine getting money out.they also did not take care of her at all,they also made it so I wasn’t able to see when I wanted to. You to would like to know the time frame and who I could get help from.


    1. Hi Helen, you need to call a lawyer in your town who does probate litigation, they can help you. If you cannot afford a lawyer, call your local Legal Aid office if you are in the US. I’m so sorry for what you are experiencing. Take care

  51. How do you stop a girlfriend from stealing from her deceased boyfriends estate? Someone I know has passed away from apparent suicide and his girlfriend has collected all the property and ceased all communication with his family. She has refused to release anything but a hand full of his clothes and is treating the family in a very poor manner… Is this a probate issue or can something like a protective order be filed?

    1. Hi Vaughn, it all depends on whether he had a will or died without a will (intestate). If he wrote a will that gave girlfriend everything, then it’s all hers. If he died without a will, the family can file a petition in probate and use their state law governing “intestate estates”. When someone dies without a spouse, their property goes to their parents, if the parents are alive, if parents are deceased, then their property goes to their siblings. If siblings are dead, then it goes out to children of the siblings (nieces/nephews) in equal share. State law governs how property is distributed. But it’s up to the family to get legal advice and make a decision on what they want to do. Hope that is helpful.

  52. My sister passed suddenly in December. While taking turns to be with her a couple nieces mentioned “why don’t we use her credit card to buy things now”. Also she had an IRA of about 200K which is now down to 80K. we were informed that there was a “GIFT” given within months of her death>
    My sister also took out $25K the week before she passed. This is so shady and some family members are requesting to see all her financials the year prior to passing as well as to this date.
    We agreed to have my brother be the administer but he does not want to look into the missing money and find out where it went. I believe my sister can do what she wanted with her money but a year before she passed she was planning on using the 200K to buy a home in Florida.
    We have been called GREEDY and other awful things on social media and this entire situation has ripped our entire family apart…we actually think those that do not want to disclose are the people who benefitted from the money….which is not my business but HONESTY would make all of this go away!

    1. I think you should talk with a probate litigation lawyer who can answer your questions. In general, financial accounts can pass outside of probate court to the named beneficiaries on a Pay On Death form usually completed by the owner of the account (401K, checking, savings, life insurance). The beneficiaries have a right to privacy. Unless you are listed, you don’t usually get information. Please talk with a lawyer in the county in which your sister’s estate is being probated so you can get some information on how her estate is being managed. I am sorry for your loss.

  53. So my sister passed suddenly in December and 6 months prior she had almost 200k in her 401k. My brother is administrator bc she had no children and no will. Well her 401k is now at 80k ! My brother and (our?) estate lawyer have told us that it’s none of our business what my sister did with her money prior to her death. We know for sure a gift was given lawyer says it’s non of our business. Is that true? This is causing so many problems in our family and I think my brother may be hiding the fact that he may have gotten the gift. All I want is the truth! My sister was very generous and if she wanted to gift someone well good for them! We’d just like to know. Any advice?

  54. My wifes x husband re-financed a loan on her house after she passed away in his own name. My wifes name was still on the deed. I am the executor & sole beneficiary of her estate.

    1. Hi Don, I think you need to talk with your probate lawyer, or get a probate lawyer, to defend the estate against the mortgage company – they will file in as a creditor. In my state, facts like these would result in a fraud charge against the ex husband. Good luck and I suggest you do not delay in getting a lawyer involved. So sorry this happened to you!

  55. The caregiver (use that word lightly, as she is a thief, drug user)…I feel over dosed, my elderly neighbor, which resulted in her death. This disgusting fraud woman, got a P.A, to prescribe Narcotics and other pills..(not necessary ) so she, herself could use them. I have tremendous guilt, for not speaking up to someone. I am appalled, sickened , disgusted…with what I see in the elderly care profession. if these people are qualified, to be in the care of the sick, elderly, we are all..screwed in the future, if we need help. PEOPLE…listen to me….there needs to be “watchers for the watcher!”…..DONT entrust, some stranger from an agency…to act independently for a loved one..or neighbor. Checks and balances!! If we care for humanity….WE must always…do welfare checks..beyond..these paid…unconscionable, people.

    1. Hi Joanne, you raise a critically important issue here. We need to watch out for each other as we age, as we come to depend on hired help to get us through our days. Whether the elder is at home (and vulnerable to all forms of theft and abuse) or in a facility like assisted living or nursing home, we need to be aware and observant. Is the person fearful of the aide, are they too “drugged” out, do they have family who are involved watching over their financial and physical safety? Do they have food in the refrigerator, are they clean (body and clothing) is their bedding clean/house clean? If you feel there is a concern of any kind, call the Adult Protective Abuse 800 line in your state, or if you feel the person is in imminent danger of harm, call the police immediately. And if this woman is a Physician’s Assistant and you have her full name, you can still report her to her licensing board for investigation even though the neighbor is dead now. Thank you for sharing this comment with us all.

  56. In November 2017 my ex husband passed from cancer and agent orange. We have a son and granddaughter together. He came down with cancer in FL where he lives. A female he had met on line that we all knew each other. My son and I live in OH.
    We were not notified he was ill . He gave her Durable Power of Attorney to this lady who he had met on line. He had retiree from the military years before this. January of 2017 the doctor told him to get hiss affairs in order. His relationship was a friendship with the lady.
    She had was of contacting me but didn’t really like me. He put her on his checking account so when he needed her to pay bills she could. She lived in another part of FL and was not with him 24/7.
    She was a very bossy person and became very mean towards him. The neighbor and his wife would take turns helping him. We were not to be told he was ill. She screamed at him till he got the title to his vehicle and signed it over to her. Several days before he was to go in Hospices to die she did up the paper work for him to sign over his house. Her daughter and granddaughter were the witness. She filled out a paper stating he sold all his belongings to her for $1.00. Witness by her granddaughter and daughter. She screamed at him making him nervous so he would sign. The neighbor Was there when this all happen. At the hospices she made a big deal that he gave her everything. When setting up his information to be cremated on the phone, my ex-husband stated he wanted to be sent to Arlington. At the Hospices house she made the comment she would smother him to get it over but may be seen. The nurse advised management and a camera was put in his room. She was screaming and yelling at him there. He passed shortly after that. One of the neighbors were there all the time. (husband and wife) She told everyone that no one was to contact his family. The military said they needed the next of kin to sign in order to send him to Arlington VA. She said keep him here. My son has been disable from 16 year old. Social Security sent a letter late Dec 2017 about his benefits changing due to the death. This is how we found out. She had sold his house, disposed of his household good, sold his truck. by that time. When I called she said she tried to contact us and I checked with the person who had no clue he had passed or talked to her. She said everything was left to her and not to trouble her. I did all the checking I could and got no where. I tried to have his ashes sent to Arlington as the funeral home had told me that. We wrote a letter as we knew that was his wishes all so. She had that stopped as she was the one who was POA when he passed. Arlington approved the transfer. At first no will could be found and then she came up with one. She refused to and said she didn’t have to provide my son with the will. I contacted an attorney and we couldn’t afford one. I contacted the prosecutor and other agencies. They all referred us to getting an attorney. As I live on Social Security there isn’t money to hire an attorney. The neighbors said they would go to court for us to state what they witnessed. Our first son passed when he was 31 and I have raised our grandchild. When we were married we always had a will that was held at an attorney 0ffice. I placed an add asking if any attorney wrote a will. The attorney General’s office didn’t help us as they said they would and told us to get an attorney. Con artist at her best and she got away with it!

  57. Hello , being a adoptee , and disabled and age 54 yr. old . Upon the final years of my moms life at age 86 yr. old my nieces got together & MOVED MY 86 YR OLD MOTHER OF HER ESTATE ,(address unknown until mom had passed away) and the fist thing they did was have the lawyer send me a piece of paper saying I was not allowed on moms property or allowed to call niece (self apt trustee) or criminal charges would be filed on me & trustee husband was a police officer at that time . So basically I could not call and check on my own mother about her welfare .Not being able to check on your own mother or take the chance of having criminal charges being put on me . My nieces after 33 yr. being with this family have taken everything from me and my parents belongings of over 64 yr. – plus.. now its been 13 yr. since my mother has passed and thanks to hitting a few jackpots now able to hire counsel . I hope its not going to be thrown out since so late in filing a civil case.

  58. I have a question, I received a call from police notifying me my brother had passed away and was not found in his room until 10 days later by the man in charge of the sober living home. He was found naked slightly on his bed and we got to the residence it was a mess. The man who called police was acting suspicious and had personal information that my brother would never have given. He lived directly below my brother and has told several different stories as to why no one had checked on him. He knew where things were in the room altho it was a complete mess, he kept trying to come in when we were cleaning it out trying to grab papers and somehow knew the pin to get into my brothers debit card for unemployment for which the had just gotten alot money on and that happened to be the day everyone stoped hearing from my brother. 10 days after that with threats from a friend that they were coming to force their way in to check on him the man called police and said hed just found my brother. We checked his acct and found 4000.00 missing. Only 400.00 can be withdrawn a day. So we beleive this man took 400.00 daily out and the 10 days wequals 4000. There are othere important documents missing as well. We beleive if the friend never went there to force way in to check on my brother he eould still be rotting. Alone in his room. This man has been very suspicious and my brother never trusted him. I dont know what to do about this as his birth certificate, social security card welfare cards and other financial information are all missing. This man accidently gave us a paper he thought was just his info in case we needed to contact him but on otherside was my brothers social security number pin number for unemployment and several acct numbers. Im afraid he will try to get things in my brothers names and is clearing out accts my brother had. Coroner ssid it was natural causes but we dont really know. What should my family do??

    1. Hello Theresa, I think you should talk with the police about your concerns that this man stole money from your brother and had his account numbers and unemployment pin. Then, if you can, I think you should talk with a local probate attorney to see what needs to be done to make you the administrator of your brother’s estate. That would give you the authority to do several things, like sending a certified death certificate to every credit reporting agency to notify them of his death and that no new credit should be issued after his date of death. You can write a full letter of explanation and file that with each reporting bureau along with the death certificate (e.g. Experian, etc). Also, once you are appointed, then you can formally get bank statements, credit history and show the police what, if anything, this man did after your brother’s death with regard to taking money or applying for credit. Best wishes to you and I hope you find a lawyer to advise you on local probate process soon.

  59. A family member took advantage of my husband s finances saying they were in huge amount of debt
    He had delusional schizophrenia
    And focused on their unfortunate situation, he gave them money out of joint account
    What can be done?

    1. Hi Jo, You need to talk with your bank. Usually, joint owners of an account can do whatever they want with use of funds while they are alive, they don’t need to seek consent from the other owner. I’m so sorry this happened in your family. These are the hardest types of financial exploitations to deal with. You can confront them to see if they will give the money back, but otherwise you need to look to the bank and your personal lawyer to advise you. Please take good care of yourself.

  60. My husband died jan 6 2021 his heart just stopped ibwent to hospital to see him after he was bought in and produced dead i took his shoes and wallet but forgot is 14 k chain he wore I think it weighted like two oznd he had a silver spoo. Ring when I asked for them mo one can produce them the emergency room says it was on him when he went to morque the funeral home first said we don’t open the bag then he said he don’t think his employee would steal off him the funeral home was rude to me I still haven’t gotten it back it hurts to know that this happen I wanted his stuff can u tell me who I can have help me is there a layer that sues if u win I haven’t got any money please let me know

    1. Hi Sue, you should call the hospital emergency room supervisor. Usually, any and all jewelry that a patient is wearing is taken off them and put in a bag labeled with the patient’s name, date of birth and admission date. Those are the belongings that should be returned to the family. ER would have taken them or Morgue should have taken them and inventoried them. If you don’t get satisfaction, complain to the CEO of the hospital and ask for your complaint to be fully investigated. If your husband’s jewelry is not found, you can file a police report for theft. You can also file an insurance claim if the jewelry is not recovered. It’s not the same thing to get money, it never will be, but it’s an acknowledgment at least that property was taken from you. I’m sad to say this happens all the time. Best wishes to you, Paula

  61. My child’s father was murdered about 4 months ago now in Colombia, he was a very rich and powerful man!
    Now that he is gone, they are trying to hide all of his assets and businesses with numbered companies that used to belong to him, they have started selling his businesses. His family and I do not speak now because they feel like I’m personally going after his assets when I’m just trying to secure my daughters future. He does have other children and my goal was to make sure they all get what they deserve from him. Now his “businesses” had other things going on behind closed doors if you know what I mean.. I had and have nothing to do with that, however me investigating this and finding out too much information has now put me and my child in danger.. I got a lawyer involved and have been paying thousands of dollars to basically find out nothing from her.. I live in a small city where everyone knows everyone and my ex had a part of almost everything in this city including lawyers which I got to see first hand before we had our child. I know how deep his connections run and now I’m left feeling like I can’t get help from anyone, not even my own lawyer. It’s dangerous for me to continue this search.. I feel like I’m at the end where it’s time to give up and whatever money he had is now gone to whomever, I guess I’ll never know but what I do know is this is not the way my child’s father would have wanted things to go. From what he told me while I was pregnant was that he took out a life insurance policy on himself and named all three of the girls in that and now no one can find any trace of this life insurance policy that I KNOW is there.. my child will be left with nothing and I hate giving up like this I would love some advice.

  62. My mom just passed and on my birthday to make it worse another family member talked the police into thinking she had no kids and they were next of kin, the police handed over her keys, they removed my mom’s jewelry from her body, and gave it away to them, they gave away her pocketbooks, I notified the police immediately it was a huge wrong, they refused to gain it back, and then my mom’s house was ransacked, and robbed completely by the very same family member. Their son-in-law is a cop in the town they did it, and the police will not help us get her things returned. Unsure what to do, they stole even my brother’s ashes, it’s so horrible. What can my options be??

    1. Hi Melissa, in most states the State Police will take a complaint like the one you have where there is alleged bad acts by the police. The other option is to become Executor or Admininstrator or Personl Representative of your Mom’s Estate through a court probate process and bring an action against the bad family members for taking all the items from the home. Do this sooner rather than later, okay, if you do anything all at. Waiting is not helpful. Good luck! And I am sorry about your Mom.

  63. A few days ago a close friend of mine was contacted by her cousin who was concerned about my friend’s brother, because he stopped responding to his posts on facebook. My friend made phone call attempts to her brother with no response so she contacted a local bar where her brother is a regular (small town) and the employee who answered the phone stated that her brother died back in October 16, 2021 and was buried at the town’s local cemetery. This prompted her in doing a search of the family property and found that the house was sold for $350,000 on January 5, 2022 and back up for sell for $495,000 on January 24, 2022. She contacted the medical examiner for that county and the response was that her brother was under hospice care due to dying of lung cancer in which she contacted hospice and they confirmed it, but due to HIPAA law they couldn’t give her anymore information. She then contacted the current realtor that was posted on the internet site with the property and asked her for information, and the realtor stated that she not only helped with the clean up of the property (family and brother’s personal items etc) , but that they (realtor and owner of the property) tried to locate family members and couldn’t find any contacts. The “owner” a past high school girlfriend now a married friend was stated on the property of a Quit Claim Deed to the family property recorded on October 4, 2021. My friend’s brother wasn’t married and had no kids. The other interesting part is that his name showed up on the property which was according to the document that his mother gifted the property to him, but how is that possible since the mother was diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer back in 2009 and the transfer that was filed was on September 26, 2012. One last thing is my friend contacted the cemetery where her brother is buried and they replied that the only information they could give her is that the plot is privately owned and the owner of that plot requested that the burial remained private, thus explains why no family members knew of his passing. We both believe that an Undue Influence is present here, but unclear as what would be the steps to take since the brother is now deceased. What type of attorney handles this kind of case? Help please!

    1. An elder law or estate planning/probate attorney is the right type of attorney. Any attorney chosen should be comfortable with litigating in court. Some lawyers do not do court room appearances but others who focus on litigating estate issues would welcome this type of case. Sooner rather than later to get a lawyer. Don’t let this sit. The family is easy to find given the internet. Hope your friend gets help.

  64. My loved one became mentally incapacitated in March due to metastatic cancer. I was her POA until she died. I looked at her bank statements in April and saw her caregiver stole 20K from December 2021- April 2022. I filed the report with the police April 5th. I sent them bank statements from before the care giver was hired and then when she was hired. She paid her personal cable bills, car payments, and withdrew thousands of cash. They talked to the caregiver and my loved one. They put in their report my loved one was not capable of cognitively authorizing these transactions. We were told to meet the police at the magistrates office to press charges. The magistrate said there were too many felonies involved and it had to go to a higher court. My loved one died on April 24th and they won’t prosecute this caregiver because my loved one (who died) can’t testify. I was the POA and am the executor of the estate. This caregiver is a criminal. Any steps to take besides going to the press?

      1. You should talk with a lawyer in your area who can advise you. Usually, an estate can bring an action to recover funds (civil suit) against theft before death occurred. You can also report the caregiver to any agency that protects vulnerable adults (Adult Protective Services), licensing agency for the caregiver, any employment agency that sent the caregiver may be liable as well. it is a crime but often when the victim of the crime dies, law enforcement drops the matter. The problem is that money should be yours. AND this caregiver is going to do it again and again because they have gotten away with it once. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this on top of your grief for your spouse. Please take good care of yourself.
  65. My name is John Russell Reed, my grandmother passed away over a year ago and left me a lot in an estate that is worth a billion dollars. At the time of death Darold Daniels was in charge of the Morris estate, he was told to give the to me and my wife Shawna Lynn Reed,
    It’s been over a year and some months, during such time these people that are supposed to be family members have used their phones and my internet to what it’s called as screening to monitor our every move we can not even go to take a shower or use the restroom or have sex as a couple does. They have held our mail and our everyday life in their own hands to where it has became ridiculous to even live. I have to go without because of the way things have been. They even have my wife in jail for shoplifting so that we can make it. These people turned it over to other family members to give the required information but they have done nothing but harass torture and all such other things. More names to add is mike begum Justin clawson . They are the ones who have been holding back U.S. mail by stealing my mail box key and also a lot of things off the property that which I live on that was my fathers who passed away just a few months ago. But the screening has been going on for 5 years because my mother was shot and killed in 2017 in Texas . In which she had a one million dollar life insurance policy that was taken by my so called sister Amanda cornealison
    Who has also illegally forfeit my name as a beneficiary from the policy. She uses her kids to screen me and hold them responsible for giving me the money. Kinsey Johnson or Carby or Kyle Carby, all these people who are in the family have been a lot of trouble with this. They refuse to let me have the information necessary to get the money or the paperwork for the property left to me and my wife. This has been going on for to long and I have let it go because I believed in my family members… I live at 53 Turkey Canyon road, Carlsbad New Mexico 88220. These people also have my brother Luther Reed involved in the situation…

    1. John, please get a good probate/trust litigator to represent you in court in your state. You can find probate litigators by going to the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys at, and search in your state/county. You want someone who goes into court on probate/trust controversy matters. I wish you well.

  66. My name is John Russell Reed, my grandmother passed away over a year ago and left me a lot in an estate that is worth a billion dollars. At the time of death Darold Daniels was in charge of the Morris estate, he was told to give the estate to me and my wife Shawna Lynn Reed,
    It’s been over a year and some months, during such time these people that are supposed to be family members have used their phones and my internet to what it’s called as screening to monitor our every move we can not even go to take a shower or use the restroom or have sex as a couple does. They have held our mail and our everyday life in their own hands to where it has became ridiculous to even live. I have to go without because of the way things have been. They even have my wife in jail for shoplifting so that we can make it. These people turned it over to other family members to give the required information but they have done nothing but harass torture and all such other things. More names to add is mike begum Justin clawson . They are the ones who have been holding back U.S. mail by stealing my mail box key and also a lot of things off the property that which I live on that was my fathers who passed away just a few months ago. But the screening has been going on for 5 years because my mother was shot and killed in 2017 in Texas . In which she had a one million dollar life insurance policy that was taken by my so called sister Amanda cornealison
    Who has also illegally forfeit my name as a beneficiary from the policy. She uses her kids to screen me and hold them responsible for giving me the money. Kinsey Johnson or Carby or Kyle Carby, all these people who are in the family have been a lot of trouble with this. They refuse to let me have the information necessary to get the money or the paperwork for the property left to me and my wife. This has been going on for to long and I have let it go because I believed in my family members… I live at 53 Turkey Canyon road, Carlsbad New Mexico 88220. These people also have my brother Luther Reed involved in the situation…

  67. Theft is a criminal offense. When can I go to the District Attorney??

    1. Please gather all the information together on the suspected theft, organize it in chronological order and then go to the police to file a report. Another option is get a probate litigation attorney to help you put the case together. You have to put all the case information together and literally wrap it up in clear concise information before you go to the police to file a report. Your attorney should contact the district attorney, or if credit card fraud is involved, or wire transactions of money are involved, if the total amount is over $125,000, the US Attorney’s office may be interested.
      Best wishes to you,

  68. I am very glad to read this. Relatives did this to my father before me and went after me. The APS worker substantiated as did the bank but with wire tappers with computer skills, how is it to move mail ssA funds estate run up credit cards even take out insurance in other states without my knowledge and bury the victim target in debt. Emotionally bankrupt people are just out there and we really don’t know them or law enforcement would have acted by now. They are not only the IT Anonomous group but they target the next one with the more for me by lying and misleading. Still trying to get the system to follow the law and do their jobs. I worked for big brother and retired. I’m naive I guess. When the DOJ tells you go to this that and the other, don’t forget how clever they are.

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