It happens all the time. A divorce lawyer calls us and says his client is thinking of suing her husband for divorce, but knows very little about the family’s finances. What are the sources of income? Where is the money invested? Does the husband have anything hidden in companies she doesn’t know about?
After years of telling clients to tell us “everything you know about your husband’s money, investments and habits that could help us to find assets,” we came up (at the suggestion of a client) with a better idea: a checklist to help clients under stress ask themselves all the right questions before we begin an asset search.
Here is that list. It’s been very helpful not only in a couple of recent divorce cases, but also in other kinds of asset searches.
The questions are to be asked about the person being searched, not the client being interviewed.
1) What are their full names? Have they ever used any other names? Single names? Other married names? Variations of their current names? (E.g. using their middle name or initials instead of their first, etc.?)
2) When were they born?
3) Where were they born?
4) Where do they live? What are the addresses? Do they own property there? Keep in mind this includes real estate, as well as cars, boats, planes, etc. And real estate is more than just homes: It also includes land and commercial buildings.
5) What phone numbers are associated with them? Home? Office? Mobiles?
6) Where do they vacation? Do they own property there? What are the addresses? What are the phone numbers for those properties?
7) Where do they like to travel? How frequently do they go there? Might they own property there?
8) Where do they bank?
9) Do they have investments? Stock? Bonds? Property? Other businesses?
10) Do they have any paid insurance policies with cash value?
11) Do they have any annuities that you know of?
12) Where do they currently work? What is the address there? What is their position?
13) Do they have any ownership interest where they work?
14) Do they or have they had any partners? What are their full names? Where do they live? What are their addresses?
15) Have they had any previous jobs? What was the address there? What was their position?
16) Have they had any ownership interest where they previously worked?
17) Do they currently own any companies? What are their names? What do they do? What are their addresses? What phone numbers are associated with them?
18) Have they previously owned any companies?
19) If they own companies or have owned companies in the past, what were they named? Are there any naming conventions they’ve relied on? For example, initials of names? City names? Variations on the same name? (St. Mark Co., St. Mark Associates, St. Mark Partnerships, etc.). Can you guess what they may name a new company?
20) What did the companies do? What are their addresses? What phone numbers are associated with them?