4 minute read

What is inheritance hijacking?

Inheritance hijacking occurs when someone tries to take your inheritance away from you, either by force or by deception. Learn how to avoid this type of theft.

Inheritance hijacking may seem like something that only happens in movies or TV dramas, but don't let the dramatic name fool you– it is a real problem that can happen to anyone. If you are not careful, someone may try to take advantage of you and your family. The reason this type of theft can be especially devastating is because it often happens during a time of vulnerability, such as after the death of a loved one. There are, however, a few things you can do to avoid inheritance hijacking. Educating yourself about these potential dangers and taking informed steps now is the best way to make sure your inheritance goes into the right hands in the future. You're in the right place!

Here at Trust & Will, a leader in online estate planning services, we understand how crucial it is to make sure that your assets are protected and end up in the correct hands. We want to help you take precautionary measures to protect yourself now before it's too late. That is why in this article we will be covering what inheritance hijacking is, as well as steps you can take to protect yourself and your Estate from becoming a victim of inheritance hijacking. 

Keep reading to learn more about the following questions related to inheritance hijacking:

What is inheritance hijacking?

Inheritance hijacking is the term that describes a type of theft. It can occur when one or more people steal an inheritance that was intended to be left to someone else. This type of theft happens more often than you think. It can happen when someone steals assets not left to them in a Will or Trust. It is also an unfortunate reality that inheritance hijacking can come from someone close to you or someone who pretends to be close to you in order to make it easier for them to hijack your inheritance after your pass. However, it is also possible for inheritance hijacking to come from those you do not know or have no prior relationship with. That is why it is important to be aware of inheritance hijacking and how to safeguard your estate from this kind of theft.

What are common scenarios of inheritance hijacking?

Inheritance hijacking can come in many forms. Those who are looking to steal an inheritance will use any means they can to acquire assets not meant for them. Below is a list of just a few common scenarios that can occur when someone is attempting to hijack an inheritance. 

Emotional manipulation 

One of the most common techniques people may use to steal your inheritance is emotional manipulation. This can come from a family member who is after more of your assets than you were planning to leave them. This may look like family members suddenly attempting to become much closer to you than they previously had been, which is often accompanied by them offering to do more favors for you in order to seem like they are your favorite relative. 

Bad-mouthing relatives

Another tactic family members may use to get to your inheritance is to bad-mouth other relatives that may receive portions of your inheritance. The goal here is to give you a skewed and biased view of specific individuals in the hopes of encouraging you to write them out of your Will or Trust to make their own portion of your inheritance larger. 


When it comes to inheritance hijacking among strangers looking to receive your inheritance, marriage is often a viable tactic. This can look like someone taking a sudden and amorous interest in you after finding out that you do not have much longer to live, and especially if they are aware that you'd be leaving behind a sizeable estate after you die. Generally, spouses receive a portion of your Estate if you were to predecease them, making a marriage certificate a lucrative document in the eyes of an inheritance hijacker.  

5 Ways To Protect Yourself From Inheritance Hijacking

1. Be aware and vigilant 

One of the best ways to protect yourself from inheritance hijacking is to become vigilant and aware of the people around you. If you see family members suddenly behaving differently as you get older, take note of it and talk to them about it. Additionally, be cautious of new people who enter your life until you feel you can fully trust them. 

2. Make family members aware of your estate plan

Instead of keeping the majority of your estate plan a secret, make sure to discuss your estate plan with more than one person so they are aware of what it should look like ahead of time. This way, they can be on the lookout when things seem off.

3. Consider multiple executors 

As an added layer of defense for your estate plan, you may want to consider appointing multiple Executors. This way, they will be able to keep each other in line and ensure that no bias comes into play when it is time to distribute your assets as directed by your Will. 

4. Have multiple sets of your estate plan documents

If you keep your estate plan documents in only one location, there is a risk for them to mysteriously go “missing”. This can lead to expensive and lengthy court proceedings. However, if you have multiple signed copies left with your most trusted loved ones, they will be able to attest to the validity of your Estate Documents.

5. Create a comprehensive estate plan

One of the best ways to stop inheritance hijacking before it happens is to ensure that your estate plan is up to date and thorough. If you have all of your papers in order, it will be difficult to dispute them, and will be an added layer of protection to your Estate after you pass. This is where Trust & Will can help by providing you with the necessary estate planning documents you need to secure your Estate.

With Trust & Will, you can create your comprehensive state-specific estate plan completely online from the comfort of your home, making it as hassle-free as possible. With our online estate planning services, you’ll find all the legal documents you need, including Wills, Trust-Based estate plans, Nomination of Guardianship documents, and much more. Protect your Estate from inheritance hijacking and unscrupulous individuals by drafting a solid estate plan online today at Trust & Will. 

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Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. We are not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.


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