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What do you do if assets are missing from a loved one’s estate?

| Dec 18, 2020 | Estate Planning |

When your loved one’s estate is missing assets, it could be a sign that they were taken advantage of or that someone has been stealing. It’s just a fact that some people will do anything they can to take from someone else who is unable to protect their assets or who has passed away.

If there are missing assets, you may not be sure which steps to take next. What you do may vary based on the specifics of your case, too. Fortunately, there are some easy-to-follow steps that may help.

  1. Get all immediate heirs together

To start with, get all the immediate heirs together to discuss the missing assets. It may be that someone took something early thinking that they were entitled to it. It might also be that someone took an item hoping that no one else would notice. Discuss if anyone knows where it is or who may have it.

  1. Put your differences aside

Personality differences cause many of the familial conflicts that happen during estate settlement. Do your best to maintain respect for everyone involved. Anyone who has removed items from the estate should list what they have. Then, you can discuss if it needs to be returned.

  1. Bring in your attorney

If it turns out that assets were stolen intentionally or that assets are still missing, it’s a good time to talk to an attorney about what you can do to get those assets back. By stealing assets, someone, whether they’re an heir or not, is negatively affecting the settlement of the estate and all those who are entitled to a fair share.

Missing assets aren’t always going to be easy to find. While you can ask for a forensic accountant to step in or see if anyone in your family has an idea about where specific assets are, it could be hard to find them. In the end, if you do know who stole or took items and they were not entitled to them, the estate may need to take steps to get those items, or the value of those assets, back.

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