People do inherit from a long, lost relative. However, it isn’t all that often.
If you should inherit money from a long, lost relative, someone administering the estate will contact heirs and let you know. This usually comes as a very welcome surprise for the heirs. However, this rare occurrence is also the subject of a very common scam that might be increasing, according to the Gazette Extra in “Police warn of IRS, inheritance scams.”
The scam is not a sophisticated one. It generally consists of someone receiving a letter in the mail informing them of an inheritance, but with a catch. To make sure the person receiving the letter is the appropriate heir, the “heir” is required to provide some personal details and send cash back to help facilitate the process.
This should raise alarm bells, but people want the inheritance so badly to be legitimate, that they are often taken in by the scam. They not only lose the cash they sent, but they are often then the victims of identity theft. How? It is because they have given the scammers too many personal details.
A genuine estate planning attorney might someday contact you about an inheritance. That attorney will never ask you for money up front to tell you about any inheritance that you might receive. If you receive word that you have an inheritance coming, don’t send the messenger any money. Contact the court and find out for sure.
Reference: Gazette Extra (April 19, 2018) “Police warn of IRS, inheritance scams.”