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Unraveling Inheritance Theft

Inheritance theft, also known as inheritance hijacking, is a troubling issue many families can face during an already challenging time. It involves wrongfully appropriating an inheritance from the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. So, what are the inheritance theft laws? And what is the statute of limitations for inheritance theft? Let’s delve into these questions in this guide.

Understanding Inheritance Theft

Inheritance theft can occur in various forms. It may happen when someone influences a vulnerable person to change their will or trust, steals assets from an estate, or abuses their power as executors or trustees. Some common examples of inheritance theft include:

  • Misappropriation of funds by an executor or trustee
  • Manipulation or coercion leading to changes in a will or trust
  • Falsifying documents to gain control over an estate
  • Direct theft of valuables from a decedent

Inheritance Theft Laws

Inheritance theft laws exist to protect heirs and beneficiaries from such wrongdoings. However, these laws vary by state, so it’s essential to consult with a qualified attorney who understands your jurisdiction’s specific rules.

You should act immediately if you suspect your inheritance has been stolen. Legal remedies may include contesting the will, filing a lawsuit against the perpetrator, or reporting the theft to law enforcement.

Statute of Limitations for Inheritance Theft

The statute of limitations for inheritance theft refers to the time you have to take legal action after discovering the theft. This period varies depending on the state and the case’s specific circumstances.

For example, if the theft involves fraud or misrepresentation, the clock typically starts running when the victim discovers the fraud, not when the fraudulent act occurred. The same applies to contesting a will or trust. The timeframe to challenge usually begins when the will or trust is submitted to probate or becomes irrevocable.

Probate Fraud Punishment

Inheritance theft can be considered a form of probate fraud and can carry severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. The specific punishment for probate fraud also varies by state and depends on the severity of the crime.


Inheritance theft is a serious matter that can cause significant harm to rightful heirs and beneficiaries. If you suspect inheritance theft, it’s crucial to act quickly due to the statute of limitations.

At McBrien Armistead Law Group, we’re dedicated to helping you navigate these complex legal matters. We provide guidance on inheritance theft laws and can help you understand your rights and options. Contact our law office for a scheduled appointment to discuss your case.

Thank you for reading!