4 Ways Lawyers Can Use Asset Searches

Posted by CourthouseDirect.com Team - 22 December, 2015


An asset search is a powerful tool. Attorneys can use such a search to find hidden documents. Unlike a public record search, an asset search finds information that is not always available to the public. Such a can find a business or individual's personal property or real estate. It also can yield the status of such assets, for example, if there are any judgments or liens on those assets.

Asset searches are helpful in a number of situations.

Expose Hidden Assets of Divorcing Couples

State laws and court orders generally determine how to divide property and assets when couples divorce. But, it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes, a divorcing spouse will try to hide assets from the other. If the other spouse doesn't find out about the assets, they won’t be included as joint assets and the sneaky spouse won’t have to share. Fortunately, attorneys have some legal tools they can use to expose these hidden assets.

Searches and Discovery

Asset searches are handy for the discovery process. An attorney can use such a search to find unreported assets, hidden businesses or entities that are holding assets, and other sources of income. Such searches can help an attorney create stronger requests and subpoenas.

Leverage Child Support Collection

Many divorcing couples must figure out how to handle child support. Under federal and state laws, parents are required to support their children financially, even after a divorce. The court will determine a child support amount, and the noncustodial parent must pay it until the child reaches a certain age.

This doesn't always work out as planned. Many divorced parents try to evade their support payments. They may skip a payment or two, or stop paying altogether.

How to Use Search Results

Obviously, nonpayment of child support can leave the custodial parent in a very tough situation. Raising a child is expensive and is often unaffordable for a single parent, but trying to chase down an ex can be costly. An attorney can do an asset search to discover hidden sources of income an ex-husband or ex-wife has that could be applied to support payments. A search can help an attorney decide how strong collection efforts should be. For example, if a noncustodial parent has no assets, you may want to reduce your efforts, thereby keeping your client's legal costs down.

Fulfill Due Diligence to Businesses

When business owners consult attorneys before making investments, due diligence is required. This means you must do everything in your power to make sure you’re well informed. Business owners often consult attorneys before beginning new businesses, adding partners, hiring a high-profile employee, or negotiating a merger. The attorney's job is to examine the other entity's health and potential; an asset search can help a client make the best decision.

Search Results Can Prevent a Bad Investment

For example, the results of an asset search of Company A can show whether the business is healthy enough for Company B to invest in it. If the search discovers that Company A has a big lien against the business, Company B needs to know. Company B still may want to invest, but the information needs to be weighed with all the other factors that go into its decision.

The search also can look at an individual's assets before a company hires a new employee. This can help you put all the pertinent information into one place for your client to consider. Factors such as criminal history and previous bankruptcies would be important items for your client to consider 

Personal Injury Cases

An asset search can be tremendously helpful in a personal injury case. When a client has severe injuries and not enough insurance coverage, an asset search might help you find other potential sources for help. As with business due diligence, it's your responsibility to give your client the best legal advice possible. Your client expects you to help finding compensation for injuries, and an asset search can be the key to opening those avenues.

Do an Asset Search First

An asset search can help you determine if a personal injury claim is worth pursuing or if it would be in your client's best interest is to take the settlement. You may also find assets the defendant is trying to hide in an effort to evade payment. Asset searches are so helpful that, in fact, they should be one of the first things you do in a personal injury case.

You can do nationwide business and individual asset searches from the comfort of your office on websites such as CourthouseDirect.com.

Property Lien Guide

Topics: Courthouse Documents

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