Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right, and the other is a husband.
This final chapter (in two parts) in this series of protecting your financial assets will show you how the guy who cheated you out of your money is protecting his assets, which used to be yours. I will show you how to do the same thing to protect your own assets.
Every investigation or work of research must be cost efective. If you consider retaining someone to retrieve information (leading to asset recovery), you should ask yourself, What do I have to gain by spending this money, knowing that there cannot be a guarantee of success?
Another question would be, Why is this necessary — why do I have to go through this, in order to receive my just due?
Okay, if the answer to the first question is, “Thousands of dollars, and self satisfaction,” then you need ponder the answer to the second question but a moment: “Because the SOB is hiding or is about to hide his assets, and some of those assets (i.e., that money) used to be mine! Remember those italics, for we shall revisit the concept of timing and timeliness. For the moment, know that if you fail to act promptly to recover your just due, your chances for recovery may plummet to zero, or become so costly as to put the efforts out of reach for you.
As well, here is a pragmatic answer to the second question: The “authorities” are not going to do a thing for you, unless
(1) You are a famous person or
(2) A member of a powerful group or
(3) Can show fraud in the millions. Frankly, the police are way too busy to piddle around with your $50,000 bad debt!
There is a difference betweeen concealing cash assets and protecting general assets. It is important that you understand and accept that dichotomy. Remember that there are two main reasons that people conceal cash assets: to evade tax, and to conceal the source of the cash. Only criminals need to conceal cash. When they do so, they are probably laundering the money. They are careful to leave no trail. Now here is a thought for you: If someone screwed you out of a bundle of money and left town, he or she is in one of two categories. Either originally with good intentions, but now really down and out, on the dole; or the person is a criminal. Retain someone (like us) to conduct a skip trace for you; if the tracer is really good, she can give you a good picture of which one you are up against.
Why You May Need to Protect Your Assets
On the other hand, there are many people who probably need to protect their cash — far from the maddening crowd of local banks and credit unions. If you have honestly amassed a net worth of a million or more, you should consult with a lawyer who is qualified to advise in the matter of asset protection. These assets may be in any form, from yachts and condominiums, to stocks and real property. (Remember when I was telling you how the bad guys hid their assets?)
If your profession exposes you to legal consequences, then in my opinion, you should consult an attorney with all haste. [I am a paralegal, and do not give legal advice.]
Consider the legal exposure in the medical, dental, and clinical psychology sciences, and yes, in the practice of law. While insurance carriers offer some protection in the form of malpractice coverage, there is no guarantee that
(1) The coverage will satisfy the amount of the judgment
(2) You will still be able to afford the premiums after the first insurance payout, and
(3) The carrier will still be there for you when it is time for it to pay.
The only person who will always be there for you is you. It may be true that the meek will inherit the earth, but until they do, it is your responsibility to keep what’s yours, yours.
No matter what your profession or occupation, from shop keeper to heart surgeon, you may at some point be exposed to a law suit for some kind of negligence. The first core element in a suit for negligence is duty of care. You help a person in distress to cross the street, a semi-tractor trailer driver blows his air horn, and the person you are helping craps his pants, or has a heart attack — or both. The person with the crapped-in pants and the whiffy heart sues you. The lawyer charges that you breached your duty of care (the second element of negligence), and as a result, the person you were helping has ruined britches and a heart condition. These are damages that can be quantifiable in dollars — the third main element of negligence.
And now you go, “Wha-a-a-?! That’s crazy!”
Yes, it is. But anyone can find an attorney to take any issue — no matter how frivolous — before the court. You would be required to appear in court to defend yourself. And who knows — you may lose! The plaintiff gets a judgment against you for, say, 2.5 million dollars. You appeal. That will take forever, or longer. Meanwhile, what you don’t know is that the plaintiff attorney had retained us to identify any attachable assets you may have. And of course we found them. They were in deposits in your local friendly branch. And in your stock holdings. And your real property.
Another review: If you are informed of a pending suit against you, and you send, convey, carry, or electronically transmit cash to another person (and a foreign bank is a legal person), you may be exposing yourself to criminal prosecution. The Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, enacted in all the States, makes it a crime to convey (transfer) assets with intent to deprive past, current, or future creditors of the benefits of those assets. So, as the lawyers would say, the time to protect yourself is now. [I am a paralegal, and do not give legal advice.]
Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls
Remember that I alluded earlier to timeliness regarding your efforts to locate and recover your assets. One lady came to us (through her lawyer), because her husband had just presented her with divorce papers. They had been married for some 20-odd years, so she knew that he had over $2.5 mil in holdings. Then the attorney tells us that he has had the case for about 10 months. Crap!
The husband had offered her $25,000 in settlement. The woman was not stupid. She wanted a bit more. Okay, but the trail was stale. Eventually, we picked up the hint of a trail that led to the Bahamas. Our person in the Bahamas researched to the point where he located, if memory serves, about $100 k — out of two and a half million. Thousands of dollars of research later, he picked up trails from the Bahamas to other places…. You know where this is going, don’t you?
If an attorney has completed a protection transaction on behalf of your debtor, you would spend a small fortune locating the money, and another fortune trying to recover it. But hey, guess what: that attorney action could work for you, as well!
Next time: Islands in the sun.
… To do all this for you. That is, to conduct research for skip tracing, asset locating, tenant screening, or background checks. Before I go any further, let me tell you about ad gimmicks like “Guaranteed Results”, and “No Find – No Fee”.
How Much Is a Guarantee Worth?
Do a reality check before you hire anyone who guarantees results in any matter regarding human behavior. Think. How is that researcher or so-called investigator able to guarantee that he or she will find your Subject? How would a lawyer guarantee to win your case? Or — well, you see what I mean.