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Learn How To Locate Hidden Assets -  Be Your Own Detective

Asset Search


Before You Start - Investigate
Before you set out on your search, you need to know how to go about locating assets through public records. First, you'll need the subject's name and address. In some counties, just the individual's name is enough to proceed. You need to find out if the person in question is truly "who" and "what" she or he claims to be. What does the person own? The best way to get answers to pertinent questions like these is to gather intelligence.

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Tenant Screening Sample See Sample



Find out where your subject lives and works. A pretext telephone call will often work. Deadbeats were once able to hide from the courts, but that's changed. Hard-to-find people who don't want to pay have become better and better at not leaving a paper trail. If they're good at hiding assets, they'll put everything in their sister's name or their mother's name, or in the name of somebody they think they can trust, making ownership very difficult to prove. An assets search should include a county civil search if deed transfers are suspected.

New Business Venture

If you are contemplating an investment in a new venture, or are considering taking on an investor, thinking about a merger, consider conducting a thorough background and assets search.


Before filing for divorce, and to ensure an equitable settlement, learn exactly what property and possessions are owned by which parties.

Child Support

Most state child support enforcement agencies do not have the resources to track down parents who evade their support obligations. An assets search can aid in collecting child support owed to you. You can then turn discovered information over to the child support enforcement agency, which will collect the money for you. Wages are considered assets and can be garnished.

Judgment Battle

You've won a judgment, and naturally, you want to collect the court-ordered sum. This is just the beginning of the collection process. The losing party rarely writes a check at the courthouse. The judicial system can only enforce a judgment and is not much help in collecting it. The judgment is good initially for ten years, and can be revived so that it endures indefinitely. This can be done through post-judgment questions directed to the debtor, or interviews of the debtor conducted under oath.

Before You Sue

Conduct an assets search before suing to ascertain what assets and income your subject has, and to make sure the assets will be available should you win a judgment. Do this assets search before taking possession of an asset - such as an automobile or a boat - with a lien against it, as you may be liable for the lien. If the person doesn't have anything, why waste your time and money in court? If you're not going to collect, why bother to go through the hassle of a court conflict to get a judgment?  Plus, you could lose on a technicality! Find out what you can attach and make stick, uncontested, once you have obtained the judgment.


Everything you own is an asset: stocks, bonds, houses, boats, money in banks, that new car with no lien on it. Your bedroom set, your living room furniture - all are assets. Personal assets are either "personal property" or "real property."  Real property assets include houses, condo's, lots, apartment buildings, or other commercial properties.

Tangible Personal Property

These are things like vehicles, equipment, inventory, phone systems, computers, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, paid-up insurance policies - items of value a person buys or comes into possession of by one means or another. Except for personal property that must be licensed, like vehicles and boats and airplanes, "ownership" of an item is usually determined by "possession." Proof of ownership may be a sales receipt, a canceled check or a bill of sale. Most everyone agrees: possession, especially long-term possession, is nine-tenths of the law.

Intangible Personal Property

Items such as patents, royalty agreements, promissory notes, contracts, accounts receivable, wages, or other income are considered Intangible Personal Property. Real Property
Locate real estate and you may have something to attach. If your subject, the owner, has a homestead exemption on the house, you're not going to be able to touch it. However, if he owns the lot next door, or if he owns an apartment building, you can lay claim to those.

 Real Property

Locate real estate and you may have something to attach. If your subject, the owner, has a homestead exemption on the house, you're not going to be able to touch it. However, if he owns the lot next door, or if he owns an apartment building, you can lay claim to those.


Database Information Providers

Online database Information Providers have experience with the intricacies of accessing public records and can conduct all or part of your asset search, saving you the time and trouble of a paper document search. Ask about areas of coverage, techniques, fees, and methods of payment.

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Tenant Screening Sample See Sample


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