At the recommendation of a client, I have recently started reading a fascinating book entitled Inheritance Hijackers: Who Wants To Steal Your Inheritance And How To Protect It (Ovation Books 2009) written by a Florida attorney named Robert C. Adamski. The book is primarily written for beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries of an inheritance. Mr. Adamski's book sets forth an extensive discussion of the growing phenomenon which he calls "inheritance theft," and which of course is a primary component of what I do in my own law practice as well (representation of beneficiaries, but also fiduciaries such as trustees andexecutors, in estate, trust and probate litigation). "Inheritance theft" is defined on page 2 of the book as "the act of diverting assets from the intended recipient to another person[.]"
While the book is available for sale at Mr. Adamski's own website, Amazon.com, and I'm sure other places, a good overview of the phenomenon can be found below which is directly from a prior post by Mr. Adamski:
1. Who steals inheritances?
Inheritance theft is a crime of opportunity committed by those we place our trust in. These are family members, close associates, care givers and others we depend on as we grow older. Inheritance hijacking is always a surprise to the victim, who never expected a trusted family member or friend to betray their trust.
2. Who are the victims of inheritance hijacking?
There are always two classes of victims. The first is the person who intended to give the inheritance. The second is the person or persons who were the intended recipient of the inheritance. As we age we are all potential victims because we become weaker in our physical and mental ability. We then are forced to rely upon and put our trust in others. This gives the trusted persons the opportunity to hijack our inheritance.
3. How are inheritances hijacked?
The hijacker's bag of tricks includes undue influence, duress, forgery, theft by an administrator, marriage, and more. Administrators of probate estates and trusts are common hijackers. They have the opportunity and ability to take advantage. Marriage is the 'Silver Bullet" in the world of inheritance theft because it is all but impossible to overturn a marriage which hijacks an estate. Care givers earn the trust of their victims and as a result are often inheritance hijackers. An important element of inheritance theft is the trust which is gained by the hijacker and later betrayed. Without that element of trust it would be very difficult to hijack an inheritance.
4. How can I determine if my inheritance is at risk?
Take the Inheritance Risk Quiz at www.ProtectYourEstate.Net to determine the risk to the inheritance you intend to give or the inheritance you expect to receive.
5. How do I protect the inheritance I intend to give or the inheritance I expect to receive?
Self education and proper estate planning are the first steps. But it does not end there. It is vital to understand how inheritances are hijacked and how to guard against inheritance hijacking. The book, INHERITANCE HIJACKERS: Who Wants to Steal Your Inheritance and How to Protect It, was written to help people protect their families from inheritance theft. Learn more about the book at www.ProtectYourEstate.Net
I have not yet finished Mr. Adamski's book, but can already tell that I will be recommending it to beneficiary-clients, and potential clients, who anticipate possibly receiving inheritances. The book contains an immense amount of valuable information for a very reasonable price.
Matt House can be contacted by telephone at 501-372-6555, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by facsimile at 501-372-6333, or by regular mail at James, Fink & House, P.A., Post Office Box 3585, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203.