If you suspect you are dealing with an heir that wants to steal an inheritance, keep a watchful eye on your property and your estate planning documents at all times. I have observed several greedy heirs. I have been surprised many times by the actions they are willing to take to get money and property from an elderly parent, aunt, uncle or other relative. This may lead to
inheritance theft.Seniors in particular should be aware that the tactics of greedy heirs may also be used by non-relatives, such as friends, neighbors, and caregivers. If you are a generous or trusting person, you may find individuals willing to spend time with you or help you with various tasks, only to see what they can get. See
The following is a list of some of the tactics used by greedy heirs:1. Greedy heirs may go through your home, office or storage buildings and take whatever property they can carry away. Examples of things I have seen heirs steal include jewelry, coins, artwork, antiques, tools, bonds, antique cars, equipment, credit cards, and personal identification documents. One heir even stole a deed from her parents in an attempt to take ownership of their home.2. Greedy heirs may try to convince you to add their names to bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and title to property.3. If a greedy heir finds your will or trust document and it does not provide the inheritance to which he or she feels entitled, the heir may try to destroy your estate planning documents or conceal them.4. Greedy heirs may ask you to loan them money with no intention of repaying the loan. See
debts owed to deceased.5. Greedy heirs may try to damage your relationship with your other heirs to ensure the other heirs are disinherited or receive a much smaller inheritance. For example, one of your children may constantly tell you that your other children do not love you, do not come to visit, etc. Greedy heirs may try to manipulate you by making you think they are the only ones that care about you. This is also a tactic commonly used by caregivers, neighbors, and friends to get money or property from an elderly person.6. Greedy heirs may try to persuade you they need an inheritance more than anyone else. For example, they may constantly tell you about their financial problems while reminding you that your other heirs have good jobs or are financially secure and do not need an inheritance.7. Greedy heirs may steal your financial statements, social security number, driver's license or other personal information in an attempt to gain access to your bank accounts and credit cards. Hide documents and valuables from greedy heirs.
See How to Protect Your Parents' Assets and Estate from Greedy Siblings. 8. Greedy heirs may ask you to go to an attorney with them and sign estate planning documents that not only leave your estate to them, but also put them in control of your estate. For example, they may try to get you to give them authority to act as your agent under a power of attorney document or to be named the trustee of your living trust. See
power of attorney risks. Greedy heirs may also ask to be named executor in your will.
Strategies for Dealing with Greedy Heirs
Whether it is your spouse, an adult child, a niece or nephew or a grandchild, you may have an heir whose interest in receiving part of your estate is unsettling. It is important to remember that with these types of individuals, they are likely to spend through any inheritance you leave them, regardless of the amount. The typical greedy heir has little appreciation for the testator from whom they inherit.One of the most direct strategies for dealing with children or other heirs that want to inherit from your estate is to completely disinherit them. This is done by legally
disinheriting an heir in estate planning documents such as a will or trust. If you already left the person an inheritance in your will, but have changed your mind, see
how to change your will. None of these steps should be taken lightly. Because of the time and expense involved in making an estate plan, make sure you are certain about the changes you want to make before signing any legal document.To learn more about how to prevent your legal heirs from receiving an inheritance, ask your attorney about including a No-Contest Clause in your will. If you are willing to spend the time and hire a good estate planning lawyer, there are several things you can do to ensure greedy heirs don't get a share of your estate. For tips, see Finding an Attorney.If you want to make a bequest to charity instead of leaving an inheritance to your heirs, you may want to consider using Charitable Gift Annuities in your estate plan.
Disputes Among Heirs Over Inheritance
Almost anyone that has witnessed a large inheritance being passed down from parents to children or other heirs will tell you that some of the people involved often feel they did not get their fair share. It is also true that parents often treat one child differently than another, whether they realize it or not. This can lead to one child receiving a larger inheritance or more gifts during the parent's lifetime than other children in the family. This can cause bitter resentment among siblings and other heirs that is never resolved. See
Greedy Heirs Portrayed On Film
For a humorous take on the family dynamics that often exist when one family member may leave a substantial inheritance to his heirs, see the movie Greedy. Featuring an outstanding cast which includes Kirk Douglas, Phil Hartman, and Michael J. Fox, this film reveals many truths about human nature as it relates to inheritance and property.
Greedy Heirs Feel Entitled
You may be wondering how greedy heirs can get away with committing these types of acts, especially when they may be considered stealing, identity theft, and fraud. However, these types of individuals may not feel they are doing anything wrong. They can come up with a variety of justifications for what they are doing. They may even say they are trying to help or protect you. For more, read
Reasons to Protect Your Parents' Assets and Estate from Unscrupulous Siblings.It is important to note that greedy heirs may not believe they are stealing when they commit these acts. Instead, they may believe they are entitled to whatever they can take because of their relationship with the testator, the help they have provided or for some other reason. Greedy heirs typically do not care that when they take money or property from your estate, they are in effect stealing an inheritance from other heirs, who may be their siblings, cousins or other relatives. For more, go to How to Protect an Adult Child’s Inheritance from Other Heirs.
What Greedy Heirs May Do When You Die
If you have pets, you may assume your relatives will take care of them if something happens to you. Unfortunately, if they only care about taking money from your estate, your next of kin may leave your pets to fend for themselves. Read What Your Heirs May Do to Your Pets When You Die.Your survivors may also treat your belongings with disrespect or sell your valuables for much less than they are worth. Greedy heirs are notorious for tossing out cherished family heirlooms, photographs, antiques, and other items they perceive to be of no value. See
Controlling What Happens to Your Family Memorabilia After You Die.
A Quote About Greedy Heirs
Greedy for the property of others, extravagant with his own. A quote by Sallust, Roman historian.
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