Hidden Assets and How To Find Them
As more and more individuals are receiving non-monetary perks from their employers and with both spouses having jobs the marital pool of assets seems overwhelming. We’ve listed below many of the “extra” assets you, or your lawyer, may not have thought of.
- Security deposits- While security deposits usually relate to rental property that you may have shared, it can also be found on rented storage units and other large purchases you, as a couple were intending to make.
- Frequent Flyer miles- Generally speaking most airlines will not allow frequent flyer miles to be considered “property” but more divorce cases are adding them to the marital asset equation.
- Time Shares- You and your spouse may have purchased a time share during your marriage.
- Patents, Copyrights and Royalties- Often the creation of these three occur during the marriage and with the assistance of marital monies which lends them to be considered marital property.
- Tax refunds- Whose name is the check coming to or whose account will it be directly deposited into?
- Hobby or coin collections. Some collect spoons from every state while others collect coins or baseball cards. Have these collections appraised.
The only way the division of assets can be equal and fair is that everything is put on the table. The court cannot divide what it does not know exists. Here are some tips that will help you in searching for hidden assets:
- Investigate to find out if real estate has been given away by checking with your county records office.
- Check motor vehicle registry to find out if a car has been given away.
- Look on credit card records to discover money hidden by an overpayment.
- Check bank and stock records for evidence of cashed in stocks or bonds, withdrawals from bank accounts or receipt of money by someone who then deposited or invested it or used it to buy something of value.
- If you signature was faked on a deed or other asset that was given away, have a handwriting expert verify the forgery.
- Use the “discovery” process in which you ask someone oral or written questions to be answered under oath or produce certain documents for you to examine and copy. You may need the court’s permission for anyone except your spouse, but permission is usually given if you can show likelihood of learning information relevant to the divorce.
- Hire a private investigator or a forensic accountant (an expert in examining financial records and testifying in court) to help you find hidden assets in divorce. Such services can be expensive, but you can ask the court to have your spouse pay for these searches and evaluations. Professionals can be helpful in finding assets hidden abroad or payments made to a spouse outside the country where American courts have no authority to order banks or businesses to comply with discovery requests. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners can help you locate a forensic investigator in the United States, Canada or overseas.