Locating assets can be a challenging task for anyone not familiar with the sources available and where to access records. Individuals and companies conduct asset searches for various personal and business reasons. Law firms conduct asset searches prior to filing a lawsuit to see if the defendant can pay the judgment resulting from the case. A new partnership forming between two companies conduct a search to show value of the others entity. Dissolution of marriage cases can also prompt a probe of assets believed not being disclosed at trial.
You can begin an asset search by looking up records available to any member of the general public. Financial information such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds and other portfolio holdings are protected and generally require a court order or subpoena to obtain. However, many assets are recorded as public information where they can reveal essential data about the subject of your search. Amongst the largest assets held by individuals are real estate, holding companies and various forms of business ownerships.
An essential preliminary search is to find all addresses under the person and any other names used that may be recorded or documented. Many public records are found under a maiden or previously married names as well as DBA and corporations. Viewing all addresses under the individual’s name or multiple names you found will show residences in states where assets can be located. Address and name searches you can conduct online free will provide other data such as the middle name or age of the person that can be used to better identify the subject of your investigation. Obtaining identifying information can greatly help your search where you are looking up common names. There are less John Allen Anderson or John A. Anderson than simply John Anderson or J. Anderson. Assets can also be under a spouse’s name or other family members where the subject is married or trying to hide information by avoiding using their own name.
Real estate ownership is made public and offered by recording agencies such as county assessors, recorders, property tax collectors or any other department that is the custodian of recorded deeds. Public record search sites with point you in the direction of where and which agencies will provide ownership information, value and other details that vary from state to state. Uncovering spouse’s name or names is another benefit to obtaining property records in cases where assets are being recorded under the wife or husband’s name. Search the addresses obtaining during your investigation and see if the property is under spouses or another family members name and discover any possible shift of assets to another person. Property records can also reveal the name of a trust that may be connected to the subject of your search and therefore adding more ways of finding hidden assets. Searching property records of residences you found can also show additional identifying information.
Business ownership information uncovers an asset held by entrepreneurs as well as many other individuals. Look up corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships by searching the databases from the secretary of state or any other state agency in possession of the filings. See names, status, partners and other details of the company depending on the state. UCC filings are free from most states where you can search instantly with online databanks.
As government agencies have a duty to provide public information while confidential and personal data is protected. However, it is not at the agencies’ discretion to deny a person or company an official request for information. The freedom of information act (FOIA) guarantees government transparency and opens records held by government entities to the public. Therefore, it provides guidelines as to what is public and confidential. There have been many amendments since the first enactment of the federal FOIA in 1966. States contain their own statutes regarding government open meetings and records also knows as sunshine laws. The basis of transparency laws are similar across the United States but availability can still vary from state to state. Electronics, emails, texts and other forms of government information are being considered and included. In bankruptcy cases where this is clearly evident, much of the information is not to be released due to the possibility of identity theft and other misuse of personal information. The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system provides bankruptcy filing and case records. Bankruptcy information lists assets and liabilities of the defendant, creditors and claims.
Access to court records with online sources directly from the individual state’s judicial system can greatly supplement and improve your search results. Internet based searches of cases are provided by many states. Look up judgments, jury awards, lawsuits and case details with essential information. Many judicial sites offer visitors self-help and how to instructions for the benefit of the general public. Easy instructions of where and how to search for, request and obtain official records.
A key step to locating assets is to begin your search gathering as much information you can find. Many databases are free such as looking up UCCs, addresses, names, business filings and other background information. Essentially, more information helps to uncover even more information. Utilizing public record sites with a directories of free and government sources, you will see what is available to the public. You can see where and which agencies contain services simplifying your investigation. Order records directly from the agency that is the custodian of the recorded documents. Collect free data online from an in depth list of resources offered by your state without being familiar and browsing the net without direction.