Regarding asset searches for money and property, we all need to be as careful as possible, no matter who we are dealing with, to ensure compliance. Even though you may trust someone completely, you can only partially be aware of their assets and holdings to the fullest extent. Because people rarely disclose all their assets, for many reasons, situations may arise that make an asset search necessary.
Whether you are in the middle of divorce proceedings, handling the passing of a close relative, or in the middle of a business dispute, you may require experts’ help to find out what holdings a specific party might have hidden away. Let’s take a closer look at hidden asset searches, exploring what they are, who needs them, and some of the most common hidden asset locations.
Let’s dive right in.
WHAT IS AN ASSET SEARCH?
A hidden asset search is as straightforward as the term suggests. It involves legal efforts to uncover or reveal any assets in terms of money, real estate, stocks, and other forms of value. Because of the complex nature of many people’s financial affairs, the average person may need more experience, knowledge, or resources to uncover another person’s hidden or undisclosed assets effectively. That’s where professional asset search companies such as ours come in.
Our company employs expert private investigators with backgrounds in law enforcement, finance, and law. These include lawyers, accountants, and former FBI, IRS, DEA, and Secret Service operatives. They are highly trained and experienced experts who know where to search for undisclosed or hidden assets and have all the latest and most effective tools, contacts, and resources to uncover them legally.
WHO SHOULD USE A HIDDEN ASSET SEARCH?
You may require the services of an asset search organization for numerous reasons. People in the legal profession will typically encounter this need during their professional duties. Probate and estate planning, for example, often involves an inheritance asset search so that the potential benefactors may receive all the assets they are entitled to. In the real estate industry, asset searches are required to determine property ownership before any conveyance occurs. Those working in law enforcement may also require the services of asset search professionals in criminal investigations as they seek to recover stolen assets that may be hidden away.
People amid divorce proceedings also often need our services. Many divorce proceedings call for the division of assets, and you may not always be able to trust your partner’s honesty under such circumstances completely. You may need to uncover any hidden assets on your partner’s side so that justice may prevail. In other legal situations, you may discover someone’s hidden assets, such as certain civil litigations, disputes, and sensitive business dealings.
Someone who owes money through a court judgment or business dealing may try to hide their assets to avoid fulfilling their debt obligation, making an asset search necessary. In short, if you need to determine the value and location of any other person or entity’s hidden assets, professional asset search companies will be in a position to help you.
WHERE ARE ASSETS COMMONLY HIDDEN?
The complexity of today’s financial and asset markets has meant countless ways and avenues for people to hide their assets. Of course, only some seek to hide their assets intentionally, but the reality is that you may only be fully aware of someone else’s assets if you decide to hire an asset search company. Some of the assets and holdings our company typically searches and investigates on behalf of our clients include:
- Hidden Bank Accounts: Some of the most common avenues of hidden wealth are secret bank accounts. These are popular sites of undisclosed assets because many people keep their bank accounts to themselves, be it intentionally to keep from fulfilling their obligations or just as part of their regular financial privacy. Bank accounts will not only expose any hidden wealth, but because bank transactions are always kept on record, they will expose the financial history of the person in question. In this way, you can reveal their efforts to hide their wealth, thus giving you valuable evidence during litigation.
- 199A Tax Deductions: The United States tax regime allows particular sole proprietors and businesses to qualify for tax deductions. Sometimes, these entities take this opportunity to hide away thousands of dollars.
- Shell Corporations: In the world of finance, a common practice is the creation of shell companies, which are companies created solely to oversee other companies. Shell companies can be used to relocate and conceal the assets of another company. The shell company can be used to hide the names of its principals, and records can be made obscure and only possible to identify if you have the skills and resources to uncover them as well.
- Insurance Policies: People can overpay or prepay on their insurance policies, such as life insurance. Some people use this avenue to hide away their money, as they will be able to recover it at a later date. This is a common tactic in divorce cases where one party tries to hide assets from the other. Some companies will even issue policies with cash surrender policies, making this tactic even easier.
- Quit Claim Deeds: A quit claim tactic is an act of putting property in someone else’s name to avoid having to give it up due to a court order, civil litigation, divorce, or other debt situation.
- Conservation Easements: The NCED (National Conservation Easement Database) describes a conservation easement as a legal agreement that places permanent limits on using a piece of land to protect its value; buying such an agreement allows the landowner to keep it off the public record. Because of this, it can be overlooked in case someone owes money, making it a common method of hiding assets.
- Settlement Statements (HUD1): The HUD-1 form deals with settlement easement, a part of real estate transactions that takes note of all the transactions relating to the property. The form will also indicate cash at settlement to or from the seller and the exact amount involved. By examining this statement, one can determine the financial profile of a debtor, which is useful when evaluating their ability to pay their debts.
- Delayed Income Reserves: Sometimes, a person can agree with their employer to have their income delayed or deferred. By doing so, the person will seem to have very little income or a negative balance. This is a tactic used by people trying to hide their financial situation to avoid paying their debts.
- Boats: Few people know this fact, but it’s possible to register your boat with the United States Coast Guard. This facility can be used by people who do not want it known that they have such an asset, thus successfully keeping it out of the hands of investors.
- Vehicles: These are apparent assets and are typically easily recognizable, but it’s also possible to conceal them. A debtor may choose to register the vehicle in someone else’s name to avoid the necessity of paying what they owe.
- Poker Chips: Many people hold the belief that it’s possible to hide away poker chips and hide them away as physical assets, but the reality is that casinos maintain detailed accounts of all the transactions taking place at their establishments. Should a debtor have poker chips hidden away, the casino will have this fact on its records.
- Tax Overpayments: This is a similar mechanism as applies to insurance prepayments or overpayments. In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service allows people to prepay or overpay their taxes, allowing it to be applied to future tax obligations. By doing so, the IRS will control the funds, effectively keeping them out of the hands of the people it is owed to.
There are many reasons why asset searches are helpful in the course of our professional and personal lives. If you’re wondering how to do an asset search on a person, consider hiring experts to handle the job for you. A professional asset search company has the tools, experience, skills, and resources to conduct the task much more thoroughly and efficiently than expected.
Whether you are embroiled in civil litigation, carrying out a complex business deal, undergoing a messy divorce, or trying to sort out the asset profile of a deceased individual, a professional asset search service can make all the difference in the outcome. If you need such a service, do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-577-1080. You’ll be glad that you did!
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