by Joe Hoover
People hide assets for a variety of reasons that range from personal to
business in nature, but essentially they have property or money that they do not
want discovered. Hiding of assets is not always a sign of criminal intent, but
just as often it shows a moral or ethical failing in a subject’s character in
that they feel there is a reason to hide all or a portion of their wealth from
scrutiny. This article delves into the concept of hidden assets and details a
methodology for uncovering such property or wealth.
WHY CONDUCT AN ASSETS SEARCH?
There are clearly situations of a business or personal nature in which it is
essential to check for the possibility of hidden assets. Knowledge of such
assets can make a big difference in the establishment of grounds for particular
types of interpersonal actions or the furthering of certain business
relationships. And of course the law enforcement community needs to monitor
underworld activities, a part of which is watching for laundered or hidden
assets, especially those that might end up being removed to offshore accounts.
Thus, an asset search is vital to full disclosure of resources in a variety of
matters both civil and criminal. The primary reasons for an asset search in the
private or family sector are evaluated below:
Entering into a New Business Venture – If one is considering investing in a new
business, bringing a new investor into an existing company or contemplating a
merger between companies, it is essential to conduct a thorough background check
on the individual or corporation. Such a check also includes a comprehensive
Prior to Entering into a Lawsuit – It is important to conduct an assets search
prior to filing suit against an individual or company to determine what assets
or regular income is present in the event a judgment is ordered by the court
(see below). It is not worth the cost of legal fees to file a suit against a
person or company that will be unable to pay any court-ordered sum. It is also
important to determine what assets or property could be attached on an
uncontested basis once a judgment is issued, assuming victory in the suit. If
the entity to be sued has nothing of value that can be taken, there is no point
in entering into a suit.
Collecting on a Judgment – When the court order a sum of money to be paid as
part of a civil action, a judgment is issued, this is simply a court order for
the payment of funds. It is rare for the defendant to simply pay the amount
ordered on the spot. The judicial system only orders payment, but collection is
the responsibility of the plaintiff. A judgment will stand for ten years, but
can be extended to become permanent. However, this requires that the defendant,
who is now considered to be the debtor, be questioned in a deposition or hearing
under oath regarding their financial status. If the debtor is going to surrender
an item of property such as an automobile or boat, be certain to do an asset
search before taking possession. If there are any liens against the property,
taking possession may also bring with it liability for the lien.
Divorce – The finances involved in a divorce can often become rather
complicated. It is not uncommon for a spouse to hide assets that would be open
to dispute. An asset search of the party being divorced is very important to be
certain that all assets are accounted for.
Child Support/Alimony – Public child support enforcement agencies are ill-
equipped to locate parents who evade their child support obligations. Quite
often the errant parent will attempt to hide assets, thus pleading an inability
to meet child support or alimony payments. In child support cases, once the
parent is located, information regarding their wages or any hidden assets should
be given to the proper child support enforcement agency that can then facilitate
Contestant of a Will – Quite often personal assets may be hidden and not
disclosed in a will. Potential beneficiaries or those entitled to a claim
against the estate should search for the possibility of hidden assets.
Read the complete "Searching or Assets," article.
Investigative Professionals performs complete and thorough Background Checks.
Conduct an Assets Search.