Tradition has it death and income taxes have the highest probability of striking. Unfortunately, due to human greed probate fraud also scores quite highly. That’s the possibility someone will find a way to circumvent a person’s will, and grab at least a portion for themselves.
Unfortunately the rest of us – the legitimate heirs – are often caught off-guard as we deal with practical matters following on from a person’s death. It can seem distinctly un-British to squabble over money when the dear departed has scarcely gone to their rest.
Three Reasons Why We Should Challenge Probate Fraud
Well first of all we have a duty as friend or family member to help ensure our lost one goes to rest with their wishes honoured. And secondly, we should not allow crooks to rob the dead. Finally, it is the decent thing to do. We wouldn’t want to look back and regret we didn’t do something when we could have.
Fraud Usually Leads Back to the Desk of the Executor
This stands to reason because they ‘have the keys to the safe’. Not much gets past the eyes of an honest, experienced executor. Out there though, the following crime is on the rise:
# Executors deliberately helping themselves because they know nobody is checking
# Executors who are so slack they don’t check claims against estates properly
# Executors who wantonly delay things to allow highway fraud to take place
# Executors who are trustees of a trust under a will and simply help themselves
Why You Should Move Quickly If You Suspect Fraud
The government believes crooks get away with £150 million a year by committing probate fraud. IBB Solicitors are concerned most estates never get the money back because by the time the robbery is discovered the money has been spent.
There’s no point at all in suing an empty bank account. Therefore we should report our suspicions of probate fraud happening to the police right away.
However Executors Can Also Make Mistakes through Negligence
Many executors have no prior experience, and may only administer an estate once in their lifetimes. The probate system overlooks this problem because it only checks their legal entitlement.
There’s also no government office monitoring what they do. It follows an interested party should do more than blindly accept their (ill thought-through) decisions.
What to Do If You Are Dissatisfied with an Executor
You don’t have to sit on your thumb because there are legal things you can do. Your first step is to write to the executor and ask them to account for the administration of the estate. If you still believe they have made ‘serious errors of judgement’ you can ask a Court to replace them.
This can be a time-consuming, expensive matter. It’s more likely the executor made an error of judgement as opposed to committing a crime. In this case it’s quite likely they will welcome your advice, and you won’t need to pay a lawyer to get what you deserve.