A hidden asset is an item of value that a person or business may have concealed for some improper purpose such as avoiding payments or settlement. Items such as property or other holdings that someone else may make a legitimate claim to if not concealed from their knowledge or access.
Hiring a private investigator to search for hidden assets can help identify and locate money, stocks, property, and other interests which you may be owed due to a divorce or other proceeding, or to help determine what a potential partner’s intentions and interests may be before going into business with them.
WHY HIRE AN INVESTIGATOR FOR AN ASSET SEARCH?
Divorce and Child Support.
Hidden assets in a divorce are often alleged in divorce proceedings and for good reason. It is common for spouses to hide assets to influence property splits or monthly alimony amounts and child support, especially if the divorce has been planned for a while. Spouses may also hide assets before signing a prenuptial agreement to keep that information from their new spouse. Financial issues in marriage and divorce often become complicated, especially in cases of high net worth. Many divorce attorneys automatically advise retaining an asset investigator for that reason.
Going into business with a new partner can be like getting married, and you will want to know if your potential partner is hiding their financial trouble or involved in other questionable or risky business arrangements. A current business partner may become interested in hiding assets in anticipation of a split in case the business starts losing money, or they may be hiding misappropriated funds.
Contested Wills or Estates.
When family members or heirs to an estate are in conflict, only an asset investigation can uncover the true extent of the estate and resolve doubt. The search may also discover missing assets.
Lawsuits and Money Owed That Exceeds Insurance Policy Limits.
It is not uncommon for those anticipating a lawsuit will be filed against them to try and hide assets, preventing them from being included in the settlement. Or, when money owed by a liable party exceeds the limits of their liability insurance, how can the wronged party receive their due justice? An asset investigator will know what to look for to determine if there are assets to collect and where they are hidden.
WHAT ASSETS MAY BE HIDDEN?
Common types of hidden assets are cash, bonds, mutual funds, and offshore accounts. Cash can be converted into other forms like real property, motor vehicles, aircraft, water vessels fine art and jewelry. Assets can also be tied up in business entities, insurance policies, annuities, traveler’s checks, and stocks. Assets that are often overlooked and undervalued are hobby equipment, quality rugs, tools, gun collections and other collectibles.
HOW ARE ASSETS HIDDEN?
The methods people use to hide assets are varied and range from common and unimaginative to impressively creative. They often involve spouses, relatives, friends, and colleagues who may or may not be aware of how they are being used. It’s common to find assets that have been placed in a storage unit or safety deposit box under another’s name. People may use their children by setting up custodial accounts under their social security numbers and transferring large sums of money into trusts as ways to try and disguise assets.
Paying down debts such as mortgages, car loans, and credit cards is another common way to hide money. Some even “repay” bogus debts to relatives and friends, or simply gift the money with the expectation of reclaiming it later.
Employees can collude with their employers to delay bonuses and raises. It the person owns a business, they may pay wages to non-existent employees or subcontractors only to void the checks once the settlement concludes, or they may pay salaries and fees to friends and relatives for services that were never rendered then get the money back afterward. The perceived value of a business can be temporarily lowered by delaying contracts and unreported income on profit and loss statements.
Want to learn about hidden and transferred assets? Contact PHENIX Investigations at 800-980-9056 or firstname.lastname@example.org.