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Criminal Prosecutions for Crimes against Estates

California Law Estate Theft Fraud

Litigated estate cases run hot. They are like hard-fought, name-calling political campaigns. Allegations and counter-allegations abound. Much that is said in the heat of the moment is later softened or withdrawn altogether.

This is not about the heat of the moment. It is not about estate differences, however cantankerous, between personal administrators, executors, trustees, heirs, beneficiaries or estate creditors. It is about out-and out-theft from an estate.

At Hackard Law we handle a good deal of estate litigation. I'm happy to report that estate embezzlement and fraud are rather rare, though it's sad but true that the phenomenon still exists. When estate theft is discovered, there is near-universal surprise and consternation. How could this happen? Well, it does happen all too frequently - and here are a few examples:

  • May 2015: A paralegal is arrested and jailed for stealing about $150,000 from an estate managed by her law firm employer. Part of the trust was established to provide for a special-needs child.
  • September 2015: A woman is charged with trying to take her sister's share of their dead father's estate. The woman filed documents with the county, claiming that she was the sole heir to their father's estate. The woman is charged with attempted theft by unlawful taking, tampering with public records, writing bad checks and false swearing.
  • December 2015: A former city councilman is sentenced to 2 to 5 years in prison for taking $50,000 from the trust fund of an elderly widow with dementia. The former councilman used the money to make political donations in hopes of becoming a power broker.
  • April 2016: A suspended attorney is arrested on a charge of one count of theft of $250,000 or more. The suspended attorney is charged with taking more than $250,000 from an estate.

If you believe that an estate in which you should have an interest is the victim of embezzlement or theft, it is important that you contact local law enforcement with your concerns. It is up to law enforcement to prosecute estate wrongdoers for criminal wrongdoing.

I caution that is wrong for a victim to threaten criminal prosecution against a wrongdoer unless the wrongdoer settles with the victim. Such threats can constitute extortion. This is not something that you want to do. Leave it to law enforcement officials to prosecute liability for criminal conduct. Leave it to civil lawyers to file civil lawsuits for recovery of damages stemming from the wrongdoing.

Hackard Law is a civil law firm and we litigate against estate wrongdoers for civil wrongs in the civil courts.

If you would like to speak with an attorney at Hackard Law to address the civil recovery for estate wrongdoing, call us at 916-313-3030.

Find us at:

Hackard Law

10630 Mather Blvd.

Mather, CA 95655


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