Preventing Estate Fraud is Your Responsibility too as a Family Member
We need to look at the issue of preventing estate fraud.
Fraud is rife in any industry today and is an uphill battle to contain. It is on the increase at all levels. Unfortunately, the latest wave of fraudulent activity targets deceased estates.
The deceased’s family is responsible for preventing estate fraud. The insurance groups and banks that have to wind up the deceased’s estate do not bear the whole burden.
You and your family are at a vulnerable point in your lives when someone close to you dies. However, it is now is that you need to be vigilant.
Preventing Estate Fraud Means You Must Act Immediately a Family Member Dies
You should secure all the deceased’s documents (identity document, death certificate, a list of assets showing the value of the deceased’s belongings, etc.) the moment your loved one dies. If stolen, criminals will use these very documents to liquidate the entire assets of the estate.
And it can happen faster than you think. Only parties you trust should handle these papers, from the moment you submit the matter to the Master of the High Court until registration.
Another Important Point – Contact All the Relevant Institutions Involved in the Estate
As a family member, it is important that you immediately communicate with the companies where the deceased has assets. These include insurance companies, banks, life policies, medical aid schemes, etc.
Contact the people who will deal with your documentation. And also update the contact details such as email addresses, phone numbers, etc. with these companies.
Doing this eliminates the chance of them sending information to defunct cell numbers or non-existent email addresses. Then this causes confusion and lengthen the procedure of winding up the estate.
Preventing Estate Fraud is Very Much in Your Hands
Taking all the above action is all very well, but it does not end there. When you get bank statements and updates on the deceased’s account, it is important to check every incoming report to make sure they reflect no illegal transactions or withdrawals.
When your finalise a deceased estate, sometimes institutions request certain confidential information from the beneficiary; one must ensure that this is a valid enquiry from a registered company as criminals often pose as legitimate organisations to deceive you.
As winding up the estate nears completion make sure all the deceased’s old accounts are correctly closed ( request a closing statement ) and the relevant funds deposited in a new bank account. This report will serve as the distribution point from which the money gets distributed to the inheritors.
Remember – be vigilant and don’t accept explanations and answers at face value. Preventing estate fraud is your responsibility too. Ask questions if you are unsure.
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