Identity theft is a fast-growing crime. According to some estimates, one out of every three Americans has already been a victim of identity theft. While some criminals use the internet and email to find new victims, others target older adults, sometimes stealing the identity of people who have recently passed away. If you don’t have estate planning documents in place, your estate could be at risk, too.

The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. has spent decades helping Californians protect their assets. Our experienced team of estate planning attorneys could help you or a loved one take the steps necessary to shield your legacy from theft. Estate identity theft | California Estate Planning Lawyer

How to Protect Your Estate From Cybercriminals

Identity thieves and cybercriminals often strike fast and with little warning. They may monitor obituaries and funeral listings for potential victims, pulling personal information from the internet or through databases of stolen data.

While you may not be able to monitor your accounts after death, you could limit your risk by ensuring that your personal representative—your estate executor—knows the steps to take after your death.

Steps Your Executor Should Take to Protect Your Estate

  • Instruct relatives and funeral homes to refrain from posting personally identifiable information online, including your birth date and address.
  • Contact credit card companies and bank accounts to inform them of the accountholder’s death.
  • Notify banks, lenders, and other institutions that the decedent has passed away.
  • Provide notice of the death to the Social Security Administration.
  • Leave detailed instructions on how to access your credit monitoring accounts, so your executor can monitor reports for any unusual activity.
  • Notify major credit reporting agencies of the decedent’s death, so no one can open new lines of credit. Have the account marked “Deceased,” so the frozen account can’t be unfrozen later.  
  • Ensure that the decedent’s social security number isn’t cited on any document that the public has access to.

While taking these steps to keep an estate safe from identity thieves may seem challenging and exhausting, they help prevent criminals from making succession all the more difficult.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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