Why Conduct an Asset Search?
There are multiple reasons to hire a private investigator to locate or identify someone’s assets or net worth.
Complex or Non-conforming Financing Arrangements
Complex or non-conforming commercial financing arrangements will frequently require the use of a personal guarantee or in the case of a consumer, a guarantor. Verifying that the borrower or guarantor actually has clear title or additional assets they can draw upon, helps to ensure repayment in case of default. Likewise, if the borrower exhibits a pattern of struggling to comply with terms midway through, it is prudent to revisit the guarantor’s financial situation as well. If the guarantor has liquidated their real estate holdings and left the country the value of their guarantee is dubious at best.
When evaluating competing bids on a project or for intellectual property, do the bidders have the financial resources to deliver? A higher upfront payment for movie/television rights to a book may seem like the better deal, but if they don’t have the resources to fund a movie/TV show, you may have left a lot of money on the table.
Pre-Litigation Asset Search & Pre-judgment Remedy
You may be due a vast sum of money, but if they don’t have the ability to pay, is it worth spending the money to litigate? One client was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident. The person at fault had the state minimum required insurance on their vehicle, and our investigation revealed no other assets. They were working a close to minimum wage job and had filed for bankruptcy two years before the accident. However, in an eerily similar case we discovered that although the defendant had no assets yet, they were about to inherit a small cottage in Puerto Rico from an uncle’s estate that had not been settled yet.
Once a defendant has been served or suspects they are to be the subject of litigation, they can move to liquidate assets or transfer them to trusts, relatives, or outside of U.S. Because litigation can be a slow process, defendants do have time to dispose of assets before a judgment is rendered. Plaintiff Creditors who are confident they will prevail can seek a pre-judgment remedy that enjoins the debtor from transferring or disposing of an asset prior to a final judgment. However, if the creditor plaintiff does not prevail, then the debtor defendant is entitled to damages from the plaintiff creditor for the limitation of their property rights. In some states, plaintiff creditors are required to post a bond in order to secure a pre-judgment remedy. A pre-judgment remedy may benefit the creditor in situations where the litigation can last years.
Divorce & Child Support
When a marriage is in the process of breaking down, but not yet over, spouses may attempt to conceal assets from each other by stashing cash in non-interest bearing accounts, and transferring physical and liquid assets to siblings and old friends.
What are Hidden Assets?
Hidden assets are those assets which an individual or corporation does not want to be publicly known that they own or control. An individual may transfer assets out of their name for a variety of has legitimate reasons, including estate planning, by using a variety of Trusts and Life Estates. They may also use various business entities, such as Limited Partnerships, Real Estate Investment Trusts, etc. to protect assets from potential creditors and for privacy purposes. They may also move assets “Offshore.” For our purposes, offshore simply means assets that aren’t located in the United States, or one’s country of residence. There are locations like the British Virgin Island (B.V.I), The Cayman Islands, Switzerland, The Channel Islands, Panama, and Cyprus that are associated with tax evasion. It is perfectly legal to have a foreign bank or investment account. What is illegal is not to file an FBAR, if you have signatory authority or accounts which balance exceeds $10,000 during a calendar year. Hidden Assets may take the form of transferring or selling an asset for less then its market value to a friend or relative, only to have it returned once they believe it is safe to do so. Works of art, commercial inventory held in storage is one way to conceal assets.
Can you locate hidden Assets?
Yes, depending on how they are structured, where we look, and your budget.
What assets can Chart House Research & Investigation Co. find?
Aircraft, Automobiles & Watercraft
Intellectual Property (Copyrights, Patents & Trademarks)
Corporate and Business Affiliations
Bank & Brokerage House Relationships
Liens & Judgments (as creditor)
Mineral Rights & Oil Leases
Last several words of caution;
1) Our blogs are for informational purposes only, we are not attorneys, nothing we say should be construed as legal advice and we suggest you consult with an attorney before engaging an investigative agency.
2) There are several legal ways to determine if someone has a financial relationship with a bank or brokerage house. However, the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA), with certain exceptions, made using a pretext, obtaining information under false pretenses, to obtain financial information a crime. Our asset searches are fully compliant with the law.