Our clients in commercial and matrimonial matters often have a question that is simple to ask and can be hard to answer: how much does a company or person own? Our thorough searches help to provide the information necessary to decide whether to pursue a lawsuit, and during litigation, whether to settle.
As the former Finance Editor for the Asian Wall Street Journal and an expert lecturer on untangling complex financial holdings and transactions, attorney Philip Segal is particularly well-qualified to uncover assets parties have attempted to conceal. For example, we routinely focus on real and personal property owned not only personally, but also through side companies. Experience has taught us that even if a person has lived his entire life in one state, he could easily control companies domiciled in a different state, and these could control assets anywhere in the world.
Two common concerns of first-time clients:
1. Why do we need to look for litigation during an asset search? To cite two of many examples:
- Courthouse searches have found antique cars that their owners did not register but were the subject of lawsuits because the owners fell behind on their storage bills.
- Searches also found apartments owned through shell companies that popped onto the record because the owners of the shell companies squabbled with real estate agents and did not pay their full bill. They were then sued personally as well as through the shell company.
2. Why do we need to search the courthouse when we can look on line?
The answer is that most counties in the U.S. do not put all court documents on line, and many counties do not even provide an exhaustive list of relevant cases over the internet. For that, you must visit the courthouse and search on the computers there.
Among the services we provide:
- Determine assets of potential counterparties prior to suing
- Track down assets hidden in anticipation of litigation
- Search for assets to enforce a judgment
- Prove opponent’s financial ties to a jurisdiction
- Expose undisclosed financial ties between people
- Uncover financial ties among corporations or organizations
- Gather admissible evidence for fraud investigations
We co-wrote the July 2012 New York Law Journal article "Detecting Hidden Assets During Divorce" (subscription only).
You can also read our piece in the Bloomberg BNA Family Law Reporter, "Matrimonial Asset Searches: Your Client Knows More than She Thinks."