In the realm of legal disputes, a disturbing trend is on the rise – the concealment of assets. This covert maneuver is becoming increasingly prevalent in various cases, from family law disputes and probate matters to divorces, child support battles, and post-litigation scenarios where a judgment is at play.
The Growing Phenomenon
Over the past week, our firm has experienced a surge in calls from clients facing issues related to hidden assets and fraud. What is most alarming is the diversity of cases affected, showcasing the versatility of this nefarious trend.
The Deceptive Tactics
One of the most rapidly growing types of fraud involves the concealment of assets, and the methods being employed are both innovative and, surprisingly, easily traceable. For instance, individuals navigating a divorce often resort to siphoning money from joint accounts before the settlement, leaving less to be divided. In probate cases, heirs are discovering that their relatives’ assets are mysteriously disappearing, distributed unevenly by those seeking an unfair advantage.
Foolish Yet Effective Methods
While the tactics employed by amateur asset hiders may seem misguided, they often prove effective due to a lack of scrutiny. Some resort to quick claim deeds for real estate, transferring properties out of the deceased’s name. Others funnel money into cryptocurrency or trusts, thinking they have successfully obscured their trail. Prepaid tax accounts are also utilized, with individuals purposefully overpaying their taxes, only to seek a refund later.
Assets in Hiding
Putting assets in someone else’s name is another common ploy – be it a car registered under a grandmother’s name, a house under a cousin’s ownership, or bank accounts concealed within a business entity. These tactics might seem shrewd, but they often fail to stand up to close inspection.
The Role of Legal Professionals
Part of the reason behind the success of these tactics is the misguided advice given by some attorneys who suggest hiding assets with the assumption that they won’t be scrutinized. Many attorneys are not emphasizing the importance of thorough asset searches, leading clients to believe that their financial disclosure forms are sufficient.
The Illusion of Accuracy
A common misconception is that court forms, such as financial disclosure forms, are inherently accurate as they come from an official source. However, these documents are often filled out by the opposing party, leaving ample room for deception. Attorneys and forensic accountants, too, might not conduct extensive asset searches, relying solely on the information provided to them.
Consequences and Strategies
The prevailing belief that the consequences of getting caught hiding assets are minimal is another factor contributing to the proliferation of this deceitful practice. While it may be true that some cases only result in a slap on the wrist or a fine, attorneys often advise a more proactive approach. Filing motions to bring hidden assets to light, seeking legal fees, and demanding additional discovery are strategies employed by attorneys aiming to rectify the imbalance caused by concealed assets.
In the current legal landscape, hidden assets have become a pervasive issue, with individuals seemingly prioritizing self-interest over fairness and honesty. As this trend continues, it is crucial for those involved in legal battles to be vigilant, question the advice they receive, and consider proactive strategies to unveil concealed assets. After all, in the pursuit of justice, transparency should prevail over deception.