Probate Problems: Identity Theft Wreaks Havoc Even After Death

Probate can be fairly simple, but there are some situations where things get complicated. Every year, nearly 2.5 million deceased American's identities are stolen and used

to open credit cards, apply for loans, get cell phones and conduct other fraudulent financial transactions. Yes, even after death, we are at risk... at least our estates and the estates of our loved ones are. These fraudulent transactions can wind up creating expensive complications in probate proceedings and thereby cause problems for the personal representative(s) and/or recipients of the estate or those involved in the probate.

How Identity Theft Affects Probate

Identity thieves steal identities in order to apply for credit which they obviously never pay back. The unpaid debts cause the creditors to go after the individual named on the applications. That "individual" is, unfortunately, the deceased. This situation may result in:

  • Money from the estate wrongly paid to creditors who unknowingly gave credit to an identity thief using the name of the deceased
  • Additional time and money spent trying to determine which debts are legitimate. If there are fraudulent transactions, the personal representative has to prove that the debts occurred after the date of death, which requires additional time and money

3 Tips To Protect The Estates Of Your Loved Ones

  1. Place a "Deceased — Do Not Issue Credit" flag with each of the three credit reporting agencies
  2. Make sure that the deceased individual's Social Security number does not appear in any document that are available to the public, like probate files or real estate files
  3. Need More Information To Convince You? Check out this news article and video from a Tampa, Florida reporter.

The Bottom Line – We are not safe from Identity Theft even after death. Probate can be fairly simple, but there are some situations where things get complicated. A trusted, knowledgeable attorney is your best defense against overpaying for probate.

Need an experienced probate attorney in Minnesota?

Contact the estate planning attorneys at Martin & Wagner, P.A. in Rogers, MN. Call us at 763.425.6330 or fill out our contact form for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 

Free Half Hour Initial Consultation


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