BY ANDY KAY
Do you think money that belongs to you was given to someone else? Was there a hidden will you know about or was there a will unlawfully discarded? Was something promised to you in a will that you didn’t receive? We help people is these sorts of cases all the time. Here’s a Q&A that hopefully gets you started on your way towards finding how to get what belongs to you.
Death does funny things to the living. It does even more surprising things to people when inheritance is involved. A death in the family often brings about past relationship problems between family members and can cause misguided emotional arguments. It can create strange alliances…especially when money or valuables are involved. I hear this phrase often: “I was his favorite and he would have wanted me to have that, not my sister!” or “It’s the right of my children to have the majority of their father’s money, not the right of his new wife and child.” You can insert different names and titles but the argument and feelings are generally mixed up in grief and/or need for money or financial stability.
“How do you handle family money matters such as people arguing about inheritance or wills?”
We actually do a lot of this kind of work where we have to go back and figure out what money is supposed to be dispersed, how it is to be distributed and to whom which part goes to. Family matters, namely inheritances, are generally quite difficult because there are always little pockets of the family that are teaming up with or against each other.
There may be one set of brothers won’t think the sisters deserve as much money because the brothers worked in the family business and the other sisters didn’t, or you’ll end up with the oldest sister from the first wife not thinking that the second wife’s kids deserve near as much… there are all these little family dynamics that make it very difficult.
Sometimes you just get very corrupt trustees and probate or estate managers that are only in it for themselves who are basically committing fraud, which we have found on many occasions. Hence, it’s important for us to know all the dynamics of those kinds of things. We are specialists in trusts; we know trusts inside-out and backwards. We understand how many different things are established upon the somebody’s death. The fact is, they may have stocks that are earning income and no one even knows about! We have had this happen many time, and it’s always a happy moment when someone realizes they have money they didn’t even know about.
“What happens with stocks after someone dies and has earning stocks?”
An important thing to know is that a lot of times people will have a million dollars’ worth of stock when they die; so you end up over 15 years’ worth of stock that gets distributed which equals millions of dollars. But what happens can often be something like this: all of the income from those stocks, or the business or whatever else, was supposed to get divided among the family members. Then you ask for accounting; accounting will have all kinds of crazy things in them. And you end up having to go back and go through a lot of details and a lot of documents. And it is very tedious work that, honestly, most private investigators can’t do. They’re just not equipped for it. They don’t have the skill set for it. They don’t have the outside knowledge of multiple businesses and entities and transactions that we do. So we’re definitely one of the best for that type of case.
“So you have you found hidden assets in any of these investigations before really over the years?”
We have…hundreds and hundreds of times. Not just hidden assets and not just stolen assets, but assets that nobody even knew about! In our investigation services, we have discovered assets that the trustees didn’t find and that the courts didn’t find, either. There’s lots of things that come up once you get in there and start digging around. Real estate, classic cars, stocks, bonds, art, jewelry, and bank accounts are all assets that professional investigators will know how to find and how to look for them.
“You know how to look for trustees and how to handle everything in that sort of a situation when it comes to trust?”
Well, the trustees are going to be a matter of record. So that won’t be so hard to find out. A lot of times there are jurisdictions in which the trust doesn’t have to be recorded or filed. But usually the people that are within the family, or have access to the previous attorneys of the decision, will have access to this information. We know who to look for and how to approach and communicate with them. So that part is not that difficult for us. It’s assets that didn’t get moved into any kind of an entity legitimately that are tough to find and piece through. For example, one kid that takes off with a bunch of antique cars. And if you don’t have any knowledge of antique cars or you don’t know how to develop the knowledge, it’s just a total loss. You could just have something out there that you don’t know is valuable and is stolen and it could be worth $150,000 to $2 million, which can be a significant amount of mistake. Those mistakes can haunt a person. But ya know, we don’t deal with hauntings…
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