For most people, the death of a loved one generates sadness at the loss. For three women currently facing criminal charges in another state, the death of a relative allegedly generated a scheme to make a profit.
A recent 10-count indictment was issued that alleges the three women committed grand theft and identity fraud and tampered with records. The prosecutor claims that after an aunt died in July 2012, her nieces filed a bogus will and used their dead relative's identity to obtain federal housing funds.
One of the deceased woman's nieces allegedly filed a fake will with the county probate court, and the other niece reportedly witnessed the will, knowing the document was fake. This will bequeathed two houses totaling $73,300 to one of the women, listed as heir in the bogus document. One of these residences is certified eligible for federal housing assistance. Each cousin occupies one of the houses.
The two nieces are residents of Ohio. The third woman charged with wrong-doing in this case resides in Silver Springs, Maryland. Her role allegedly involved impersonating the deceased woman in phone calls to the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority. The women are accused of stealing the dead woman's identity and fraudulently obtaining several thousand dollars in Section 8 voucher money from the housing authority.
To avoid leaving a legacy fraught with legal battles between your heirs, take steps now to begin your estate planning. Be sure to create a legitimate will while you are able, and prevent possible beneficiaries from fraudulently making one on your behalf when you have passed. Preserve your legacy as well as pass on your assets. Discuss your options with legal counsel, and obtain an expert opinion before you execute any documents.