Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43
One area of work which my firm deals with is addressing Lasting Power of Attorney/Probate Fraud or those who simply ignore the relevant laws
and do simply as they see fit.
According to a report by the Society of Trust and Estate
Practitioners (STEP), the cost of probate fraud is in the region of £150
These figures are difficult to estimate but I think the
problems are much worse not least of which since it is so fundamentally easy to
commit LPA and probate fraud.
By what are the attributes of those who commit LPA and
probate fraud? How do they manage to do it? And how do they get away with it as
most actually do?
The sad reality is that most probate and LPA fraud is not
There many attributes which those executors or attorneys
display which enable them to conduct criminal behaviour and be confident that they
can get away with it including….
They Exercise Strong Influence
on the Vulnerable Person -The key thing that a would-be probate/LPA fraudster (Lets
call him or her, X) will do is to exercise influence and manoeuvre the
vulnerable person to give sole control (or effective control) of his or her assets
to X. At a practical level, this can involve X becoming sole attorney and effective
sole executor (or the other attorneys/executors are manoeuvred away), X changing
the will (they apply undue influence but typically try to get the vulnerable to
see a lawyer) of the vulnerable person and taking assets out of the estate
either before and/or after death.
They Are Ruthless -To cut to the chase In my experience, the person X is
utterly self-serving and cold blooded. Typically, other relatives (would be
beneficiaries)) under-estimate the lengths that X will go to get what he or she
wants. This puts X at a fundamental advantage as they use any card possible to
achieve their objectives.
They Are Convincing - From my knowledge, X will try to be convincing and will have
no hesitation in lying, manipulating or accounting for his or her actions. I
have seen would be LPA/fraudsters have no problem about lying (convincingly) about
what is in the estate, why they have ignored judicial orders and will come up
with a variety of delaying tactics for sapping the morale of other
They Have Excellent
Knowledge of the Law -The successful individuals who get away with probate/LPA fraud
have a good understanding of the law and will act accordingly. Typically, X
will understand that while acting as an attorney it is difficult for other family
members to show wrongdoing as they do not have access to the bank accounts
which is a key piece of evidence Also, X knows that the Office of the Public
Guardian will not investigate once the person dies which gives practical powerful
legal protection. If X is appointed sole executor the legal rights of the
proper beneficiaries can be limited and if so, X will exploit this.
They Minimise Their Tracks
Probably the biggest Achilles-heel of a potential LPA/Probate
fraudster is the lack of ability to cover their tracks. What can cause his or
her undoing is simple greed and/or lack of patience. Thus, the successful LPA
& Probate fraudster will be very careful in the way in which they take
money out of the estate otherwise they run the risk of getting caught.