As a beneficiary or heir, you have an interest in knowing how a trust or estate was managed before the testator or grantor’s death. However, loved ones often have no way of knowing how an individual’s property was handled until after the person passes away. It can be a shock to find out that the trust or inheritance you thought was there, has been diminished by another’s wrongdoing.  If you are in this situation, it’s essential to know what to do if someone steals from your trust or estate.

California Law

California law section 850 provides a means for an injured party to ask the probate court to order that the property be returned. Further, Section 859 states that if the individual acted in bad faith, engaged in undue influence, or elder abuse, and has wrongfully taken, concealed, or disposed of the asset, they “shall be liable for twice the value of the property recovered by an action under this part.” Further, the court has the discretion to hold the person liable for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

When Does Theft Happen?

This type of theft does not usually happen overnight, and the acts will often be gradual and highly secretive. A concerning presence of a new person in your loved one’s life or changes in his or her behavior or spending habits, you may want to look into matters further. For example, he or she may suddenly start making large purchases that are out of character or stop communicating with family members. You may also note signs that the individual’s cognitive functioning appears to be declining. If their condition has become severe, you may have to resort to legal action to help protect their physical and financial well-being.

Often, disputes can arise between subsequent spouses and adult children from former marriages. Children may allege that their step-parent exerted undue influence or somehow manipulated their parents into making certain testamentary decisions.

Contact an Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney

Proving undue influence, theft, or lack of testamentary capacity can be complicated, and it’s vital that you have the advice and guidance of an experienced California estate planning attorney during your case. By working with counsel, you can ensure that your evidence can be presented effectively, and in accordance with the law.

At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we have experienced attorneys who are knowledgeable about California’s trust and estate laws and can help you explore and understand the options for your case. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. https://www.salvolaw.com