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A quitclaim deed is not just a legal document, it’s a crucial tool for transferring property ownership. It’s commonly used among family members to transfer ownership of a house—between parents and children, among siblings, and after a marriage or divorce.

Corporations also use quitclaim deeds to transfer property between closely related entities or transfer it into a family trust. 

However, it’s important to be aware that fraudulent activity relating to quitclaim deeds is on the rise, with many scammers specifically targeting vulnerable senior citizens. 

How quitclaim deed fraud happens?

Quitclaim deed fraud targeting seniors can be carried out in a variety of ways:

  • Fraudsters are convincing the seniors that transferring the property to them would be a financially sound move.

  • They use high-pressure tactics or threats to frighten seniors into transferring.

  • They are threatening to withdraw needed care unless the homeowner signs the quitclaim deed.

  • Forging the homeowner’s signature and having the document falsely notarized.

How quitclaim deed fraud works?

In these crimes, the impostor will appear to own the property. That person could sell it or use it as collateral to take out a loan.

Proving that fraud has occurred can be a challenging and costly process, potentially leading to an expensive and protracted legal case for the actual property owner.

Risks at senior living facilities.

While anyone can be defrauded, senior citizens are often targets due to their age and sometimes precarious health.

With quitclaim deed fraud, seniors living in senior living communities are at even greater risk since they may not notice the impacts of property fraud—such as the property changing hands—in time to stop the problem.

Who commits quitclaim deed fraud?

While the image of a sneaky professional identity thief is scary, many quitclaim deed frauds are committed by someone the homeowner knows.

For example, nursing home workers or family members could be the masterminds of a quitclaim scam. Since they have intimate knowledge of the homeowner and their financial situation, the fraud can be easier to perpetrate.

How to protect yourself?

Do not allow yourself to be rushed into signing a quitclaim deed.

Discuss the matter with others—such as relatives, friends, or caregivers, that you trust.

Empower yourself by seeking legal advice before you sign anything. Elder law attorneys, in particular, should be your go-to, as they specialize in these issues and are well-versed in working with the elderly.

Remember, if something seems too good to be true and you feel pressure to sign the deed, trust your instincts. You have the power to identify and protect yourself from scams!

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