Uncovering Hidden Assets With a Lifestyle AnalysisApr 26, 2022
You can read about what a lifestyle analysis is here.
A thorough lifestyle analysis can help discover assets that may have been undisclosed in the divorce. Each and every transaction from the bank, brokerage and credit card accounts must be traced to determine where the funds went. The key to discovering hidden income and assets is finding transactions with an unidentified or unusual origin or destination.
Large checks made out to cash, significant cash withdrawals, substantial payments to unknown entities, and transfers to previously undisclosed accounts are warning signs of hidden assets. Large cash transactions must be explained, and absent proof of an asset purchase, it is possible that cash was being hidden or used for non-marital purposes.
If large payments were made to unknown people or businesses, we have to investigate who they are. Could the payment have been for a house, a vehicle, jewelry, or other valuable assets?
Even small payments can yield important clues to hidden income or assets. In one case, a relatively small check was issued to a utility company. On its face, this did not appear unusual, and the small value of the check could have caused it to be overlooked. However, it was investigated, and it was determined that the husband secretly purchased a home several years before and did not disclose this asset during the divorce.
The most common kind of discovery in this portion of the lifestyle analysis is an undisclosed bank or brokerage account. Many times this account was opened during the marriage. Transfers were occasionally made, and one or both spouses forgot about the existence of the account. Once one account is discovered, it can create a domino effect in which several others are discovered as well. The hidden account may have been used to fund other hidden accounts, and carefully tracing all movements of funds will lead to their discovery.
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