How to Spot and Avoid Fraud with a Probate Attorney

When a loved one passes away in Nevada, the state requires that you go through probate. While some assets are separate from the court case such as a bank account with a named beneficiary or a life insurance policy, other assets like a home will go through probate. Nevada has laws about the type of case you file based on whether the deceased left behind a will or died without one. See how you can spot and avoid fraud in the case you file with help from a probate attorney.

What is Probate Fraud?

Going through probate requires that someone serve as the executor or administrator. This is the person who speaks in front of the court, files a copy of the will, and fulfills any last wishes in the will. They need to pay any bills that are part of the estate which may include the person’s rent or mortgage, car payments, and utility bills. Probate fraud happens when the administrator or anyone else involved in the process does things that go against the wishes expressed in the will. It can also include actions that affect a person’s last wishes before they pass such as encouraging them to leave more of their estate to another person or writing a loved one out of the will.

Signs of Fraud

Working with a probate attorney in Las Vegas is a good way to spot some of the signs of fraud. One sign is when the administrator refuses to give beneficiaries a copy of the will or tries to keep them out of the loop. The administrator is responsible for ensuring that all beneficiaries know what they get and how long it will take to complete the probate process. If the administrator does not share information about probate with you, they may have something they want to hide.

Another sign of probate fraud is when the administrator hides any assets or makes wrongful claims about them. While you may know that a parent had multiple bank accounts, the administrator can claim that they only had one. They only bring evidence of that account to court and drain the other accounts to steal money from the estate.

Other Types of Probate Fraud

Though estate planning lawyers in Las Vegas help clients create wills to protect their assets, they can also help beneficiaries spot probate fraud. You may find that the administrator claims they are the sole beneficiary or that the deceased only had one child who will inherit the entire estate when they are multiple beneficiaries. Your probate attorney can help you show that multiple inherit the estate based on the laws of the state. There are other types of fraud that your attorney will help you identify, too.

One example is agent fraud, which is when the person who had power of attorney over the deceased takes property from the estate before it goes through probate. Caregiver fraud occurs when the person responsible for caring for the deceased influences their estate planning. They may encourage the individual to leave most or all of the estate to them. Guardianship fraud is also common in cases that involve minor children. A lawyer with a good understanding of guardianship in Las Vegas fundamentals can help.

Fraud Spotting

Reading through the most recent copy of the individual’s will and comparing it to the one brought to court is the best way to look for signs of fraud. Nevada has many different laws about what makes a will valid such as bearing the names and signatures of multiple witnesses and stating that the individual was of sound mind and body. If the executor or administrator presents a will that is not valid or misses any important information, it may indicate that the will is fraudulent. You’ll also want to look over the will with an experienced probate attorney to ensure that all signatures match.

Another way to spot probate fraud is with a look at the deceased’s assets. The administrator cannot give away assets to anyone not named in the will. They must also have access to any assets listed in the will. Fraud happens when the administrator takes assets from the estate or passes them to people not named in the will. Probate fraud also occurs when someone influences or forces the individual to give away some of the items before they pass.

You should also track the actions of the administrator. Make sure that they pay any required dues from the estate and that the money they have in the account matches the amount they should still have. If you discover more money missing than the administrator paid out, you may find proof that they stole from the estate. An administrator can also attempt to take money with claims that the deceased owned them or try to charge a high fee to settle the estate.

Avoid Fraud with a Probate Attorney

If you are an executor or an administrator, working with a probate attorney is the best way to ensure that you do not commit probate fraud. Start with an official copy of the will. You can make copies for all of the beneficiaries before you go in front of the judge. Compare the assets in the will to the assets listed under the deceased’s name. You may need to run a credit check or have your lawyer look for this information. Bank accounts, life insurance policies, and car titles may all exist in the deceased’s name but not appear in the will.

To reduce the risk of someone may commit fraud when you pass, look for an estate planning attorney in Las Vegas. A good lawyer helps you make a complete list of your assets and create a valid will that includes all of your beneficiaries. You can also establish guardianship for your minor children and even decide what to do with your pets. A probate lawyer also helps you file your will with the county to have an official record on file.

Asset Protection

Asset protection is just one of the things that a qualified probate attorney in Las Vegas can do for you and your loved ones. They also help you spot the signs of probate fraud and learn what to do when you see those signs, which often includes filing a claim against the administrator. Fraud happens when anyone influences the deceased or goes against the wishes laid out in the final will. Hire an attorney to help with probate before you head to court in Las Vegas.

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