Finding Hidden Assets

Discovering and locating a hidden asset can be a complicated business, especially during the dissolution of a marriage or business partnership. Conducting some basic research and enlisting the aid of a private investigator may help in the process of discovering and locating your assets. A hidden asset is an item of value that may be jointly owned, but hidden by one party from another party. In finance, a hidden asset is an asset that is not shown on a balance sheet. In other cases, a hidden asset is typically property that may be physically hidden. During the dissolution of a marriage or business partnership, one party may attempt to conceal assets from the other party in order to avoid sharing or losing control of the assets. During the dissolution process, parties may simply refuse to reveal the existence and location of assets. In other cases, parties may simply be unaware or oblivious of their assets.

Private investigators, or PIs, are called upon to conduct asset investigations for a variety of reasons, such as determining if a case is worth filing or providing leverage during negotiations. Discovering assets and locating them can be an extremely difficult. Since there are hundreds of ways to hide an asset, PIs must creatively employ legal and legitimate methods for discovering and locating them. Even if you do not suspect the existence of hidden assets in your particular case, it may be wise to consult with a PI to learn more.

Conducting a successful and thorough investigation includes review and analysis of pertinent field and database information. While PIs do not have the legal authority to access any private documents or information (including bank accounts, investment accounts, etc.), they rely on other methods for determining if assets exist and their location. There are several legal and legitimate tools a PI can use to help you discover hidden assets.

One method of investigation used by PIs is a field investigation. A field investigation may include surveillance, dumpster diving and interviewing persons of interest. Surveillance is used to locate individuals, assets, places of employment, etc. It is important for PIs to select legitimate and legal locations and equipment while conducting surveillance. Dumpster diving is another tool used by PIs to help discover and locate hidden assets. The legality of dumpster diving is dependent on the local laws. If it is legal to dumpster dive within the jurisdiction of interest, PIs can retrieve any discarded information. PIs may also interview persons of interest during a field investigation. Interviewing persons of interest may reveal important information related to an asset investigation. Interviewees are not legally obligated to speak to PIs. As a result, PIs may have to contact several persons of interest until someone is willing to disclose information.

Another method of investigation employed by PIs is a database investigation. A database investigation may include assessing public records related to the party of interest. Public records may include birth records, death records, marriage licenses, vital statistics, judgements in court, criminal records, real estate transactions, employment history, name changes, business licenses and Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records.

The dissolution of a marriage or business partnership can be a complicated and stressful endeavor. Ideally during the legal dissolution both parties are honest and upfront about their assets, however this is not always the case. If you are unsure of the potential existence and location of assets to which you may be entitled, you may want to contact a PI. A PI with experience locating assets can help you learn about legal courses of action you can take to better your situation.