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By: Cava and Faulkner

What are the Consequences if an Executor Steals From an Estate?

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The executor’s main duty is to ensure all matters pertaining to distributing assets and paying debts associated with the estate are completed in a timely and legal manner. Being named an executor is a position of trust, and any betrayal of that trust can have serious consequences.

Theft from an estate is known as inheritance theft and is grounds to have the executor immediately removed from their position. Suppose you feel that an executor has been stealing from the estate; you need to consult with a trust attorney as soon as possible before even more assets can be embezzled. Contact our law offices and ask to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.

What is the Legal Definition of Stealing From an Estate?

Inheritance theft can also be considered the crime of embezzling. In many cases, the theft occurs before the estate inventory can be completed. The executor may fail to properly report assets or other financial holdings that belong to the estate.

Any type of stealing is considered to be a serious crime in California. This type of theft can be challenging to prove and may require a great deal of evidence presented by the plaintiff. Evidence can be in the form of documents and testimony from the plaintiff or other witnesses.

Can the Executor Go to Jail for Stealing From an Estate?

Inheritance theft is a criminal offense in California. The courts have the legal authority to order the Executor to make restitution to the estate by paying damages and demanding that all of the stolen assets be returned. If the state attorney decides to bring criminal charges against the Executor, they could face being criminally convicted and potentially serving up to 25 years in prison. However, often the problem is dealt with in civil court rather than in the criminal justice system. In either case, a knowledgeable trust attorney can assist you in gathering crucial evidence such as documentation, assessing damages, and providing representation in court.

How Long do I Have to Respond to Beneficiary Notice?

The trustee of an estate is required to send out a notice informing beneficiaries when trust changes have occurred. If you feel that the Executor is stealing from an estate related to forged documents, you need to act within 120 days of receiving the notice. However, if you feel that funds or other financial assets have been stolen, you still have the option of pursuing legal action even if more than 120 days have passed.

How Can a Trust Attorney Help Me if I Suspect Theft by an Executor?

If you feel that the Executor is stealing from an estate, you need to contact the law offices of Cava and Faulkner of Elk Grove, CA, as soon as you suspect the theft. We can examine any evidence you may have and assess how to proceed with legal action if necessary. Contact us by calling (979) 596-4088 and ask to schedule a free consultation.