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What Is Asset Location?

Asset location is the process by which private investigators determine the location of assets that are considered either missing or hidden. This service is quite common during divorces and after someone has passed away without leaving a will.

It's not uncommon for spouses to attempt to hide certain assets during a divorce, and it can be hard to trace all of someone's assets if they don't leave behind a will. Therefore, asset location services from professional investigators tend to come in handy.

Who Can Provide Asset Location Services?

As stated earlier, this service is normally provided by private investigators. However, it's not just any private investigator that can provide this particular service. It takes a lot of experience before a private investigator is able to offer this service competently.

Experience is important for private investigators who undertake these services because:

  • It takes a while to become familiar with the indicators that a person has assets hidden away
  • An investigator will also need time before they know how best to trace hidden assets. It's not enough to know about the existence of hidden assets, investigators also need to be able to locate and quantify the value of these assets.
  • Investigators may have to undergo a few courses to get the skills needed to become competent asset tracing professionals etc.

Whether or not an asset locating service provider identifies themselves as a private investigator, that is essentially what they are.

How Are Asset Locating Services Carried Out By Private Investigators?

The method used to perform an asset locating service will depend on the type of asset being searched for and where they may be located. If the assets were hidden, other methods may also be required to locate them.

Some commonly used methods include:

  • Performing background checks: Getting to know the owner of the assets can reveal the kind of assets they're likely to have and where the assets may be located.
  • Checking public records: Ownership of certain assets e.g. land, houses and vehicles, are usually recorded in a public registry.
  • Surveillance: Sometimes, the easiest way to learn about a hidden asset is to follow the owner
  • Financial background research: Looking into the financial past and present of someone can help to reveal the indicators of hidden assets and their possible locations.
  • Computer forensics: Internet search history, saved documents, social media activity etc. can all offer valuable information about the presence and location of assets.

Apart from these, there are other expert research techniques that private investigators can also employ when conducting asset location services.

Why Would You Need Asset Location Services From Private Investigators?

There are various situations that may call for asset location. Among the most common are:

  • During a divorce, it's not uncommon for one party to hide some of their assets. This may result in the other party getting a less than fair share
  • After the death of a loved one, asset location might be required if they didn't leave behind a will and there is no complete record of all their assets
  • If a debtor is claiming bankruptcy, you may also need to perform asset location if you suspect they have assets hidden away

What Type Of Assets Can Be Located By Private Detectives?

Almost any type of asset can be traced as long as the owner of the asset itself leaves some kind of trace. Records must be made when certain assets exchange hands, and people may also need to create some kind of record to own certain assets or to hold any assets within certain jurisdictions. This makes it possible to even trace assets outside the country.

Some of the assets that are commonly located by private investigators include:

  • Property in the UK- both commercial and accommodation
  • Offshore property
  • Pensions and insurance
  • Investments e.g. bonds and shares
  • Shares in companies
  • Corporate interests outside the country
  • Vehicles, planes and boats etc.

However, there are limitations when trying to locate assets such as bank accounts. Banks can only provide information to specific individuals or under specific circumstances e.g. when a court order is issued. Accessing such information can be even harder if the bank is located in certain countries.