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What Happens If Someone Steals From The Estate?


When someone dies, they leave behind an estate. An estate is all the assets and money owned by someone, especially at death. After someone passes away, discovering that an individual is stealing from the estate is quite common. An executor can steal from an estate, and so can beneficiaries.

When someone steals from a decedent’s estate, they may face several penalties. The penalty for stealing from an estate can be as little as being required to return the stolen assets or money. And sometimes, the penalty for stealing from an estate can be more severe punishments such as double damages, punitive damages, treble damages, and disinheritance of the wrongdoer. Generally, what remedy is applicable depends on the case’s specifics.

It is crucial to consult a qualified attorney as soon as you suspect someone is stealing from your deceased loved one’s estate. An attorney can help you determine which remedy you can and should pursue.

What Happens When Someone Steals From a Decedent’s Estate?

Usually, when someone steals from a decedent’s estate, the matter is handled in a civil court process. Rarely is stealing from an estate a criminal matter. When a case of stealing from an estate arises, the remedies available may include those mentioned earlier. Usually, a person who steals from an estate does not end up in jail.

However, if the theft is huge or someone files criminal charges with the authorities, stealing from an estate can become a criminal matter.

What if the Executor Steals From the Estate?

Although executors have a duty to do what is in the best interest of beneficiaries, sometimes they breach their duty. Sometimes executors steal the assets or money meant for beneficiaries. When an executor steals money or assets from the estate, it means the beneficiaries will not receive their entitled inheritance.

If you believe the executor of your deceased loved one’s estate is stealing from the estate, it is crucial that you reach out to a skilled probate litigation attorney. It is best that you avoid handling the matter alone because it can be challenging to bring charges against an executor who steals from an estate. For example, it can be challenging to bring charges against an executor who steals from a decedent’s estate if the executor is also a beneficiary under the decedent’s Will.

If the executor is stealing from your deceased loved one’s estate, apart from the consequences mentioned earlier, the executor may be subject to removal from office.

What Can Be Stolen From a Decedent’s Estate?

Countless things can be stolen from a decedent’s estate. When people think of stealing from a decedent’s estate, they think of the following things being stolen;

  • Cash
  • Family photos
  • Jewelry
  • Artwork
  • Real estate
  • Cars
  • Antiques
  • Furniture
  • Heirlooms

However, there are many other unique and unobvious ways of stealing from a decedent’s estate. They include the following;

  • Some people produce new Wills that contain different inheritances
  • Some people move money from the estate account into personal accounts
  • Some people destroy the Will, so things are divided according to the state’s intestate succession laws

Contact The Probate Guy for Legal Help

If you believe that someone is stealing from your deceased loved one’s California estate, contact the skilled and dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a free telephonic consultation.


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