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How do you find assets your spouse may be hiding?

Perhaps your taciturn spouse has become more secretive than usual and you believe he is capable of hiding assets now that divorce is in the offing.

What kind of hiding spots could there be, and how do you go about finding them?

Not uncommon

Hidden assets are not uncommon in a divorce, especially among wealthy couples with significant holdings. You want to be sure that all marital assets are out on the table. However, if something appears to be missing, your spouse could either deny that the asset existed or claim it was lost. There may also be marital assets you are not aware of. Your spouse could hide these by transferring them to a third party or by creating false debt.

The paper trail

There is usually a paper trail associated with most assets, and a good starting point is the examination of past tax returns. Go through them year after year, and look for discrepancies in reported items, paying particular attention to Schedules A through E. Your attorney can help, and the two of you may decide to bring in outside assistance from a specialist such as a forensic accountant.

Look for clues

Remember to check your home office files, home safe, safe deposit box or other such places where information about accounts or real property may exist. Your mortgage closing documents are a good source of information because lenders require you to list sources of income and your assets and liabilities when you apply.

Take action

Divorce is one of the most stressful, emotional events you will ever have in your life. Nevertheless, you must think of your future. You want it to be secure, which means that if hidden assets exist, they must be brought to light. Any information you and your team can find before the divorce proceeding gets underway will help your attorney protect your interests and work toward a fair settlement on your behalf.

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