One of the most stressful events in life is the loss of someone close to you. During the process of grieving, the average person is extremely vulnerable as he or she learns to cope with being deprived of a loved one. With proper support, a person is able to navigate the stages of grief, but unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of the grieving by targeting those who have recently lost a friend or family member. The great probate hoax is one of the most insidious forms of death-related scams currently being reported. Recognizing this type of inheritance scam can help you avoid the financial loss that only compounds your personal loss.

 Types of Probate Hoaxes

Inheritance fraud has become more advanced over the years as scammers understand the need to find sophisticated means of stealing money from increasingly wary targets. Probate hoaxes have become more prevalent over the years since they often take advantage of a person’s lack of probate knowledge and shock over the death of a loved one. Two of the most common types of probate hoaxes involve a person calling or visiting the home of a person who has recently had a death in the family. The person will claim to represent a local probate court or a well-known law firm that specializes in probate and estate law. During the visit or conversation, the individual will either ask for a great deal of personal information for verification purposes or to expedite the probate process.

 Recognizing a Hoax

The average person only experiences the probate process once or twice in his or her life and may not spot a potential scam. However, there are a few ways that a person can recognize a probate hoax, even with limited knowledge of the probate process. When a legitimate probate process is underway, the administrator, attorney, or court will typically contact a beneficiary or other interested party by mail. If a person who is affiliated with the process does contact a beneficiary, he or she is typically providing information rather than requesting it. Also, court officials do not visit homes in person to help with the process and will never offer to expedite a notoriously lengthy process that simply cannot be rushed.

 Dangers of Inheritance Scams

Inheritance scams often do much more than defraud a potential heir of the assets he or she is supposed to receive. A person visiting a home claiming to be a court official places him or herself in a prime position to gather a list of your possessions, view the layout of your home, and obtain information about your patterns that could later be used to execute a robbery. Someone who calls you on the phone claiming to be a court official can obtain social security numbers, birthdays, and other information that can be sold or later used for identity theft.

 Protect Yourself with Knowledge

Learning about the probate process is the best way to protect yourself from all forms of inheritance related hoaxes. A qualified probate attorney can provide you with valuable knowledge while helping you prepare your own estate so that your heirs are also protected from scams. The attorneys at MMZ Law are available to provide the assistance that you need. Contact us at (909) 256-6702 today to schedule a FREE consultation at our conveniently located Claremont, California office. We are near Upland, Pomona and San Dimas.



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.