When divorce becomes a reality, both parties will likely move to protect their finances and future security. Fortunately, there are numerous steps that can be taken to uncover these hidden assets in an effort to ensure the property, asset and debt division is as equitable as possible.

How can hidden assets be uncovered?

Even a divorce that begins amicably could be derailed by secrets.  Here are five tips to uncover hidden assets as you go through the divorce process.

  • Examine your tax returns: Even a spouse who is trying to hide assets from another spouse might not attempt to defraud the IRS. It would be wise to research back as far as the last five years to uncover any inconsistencies or unexplained (to you) revenue streams.
  • Cancelled checks or carbons: With many bank records going digital, it might be difficult to get ahold of cancelled checks. It might be worth the effort, though, as a cancelled check or a check carbon can provide clues to mortgage payments on an investment property or evidence of other sources of revenue.
  • Savings accounts can also provide clues: Similar to the above suggestion, carefully examining deposits and withdrawals could point to hidden assets such as a dividend-producing investment.
  • Interview unlikely sources of help: Put together a list of close friends or business associates. Your attorney might need to talk with these individuals in an effort to uncover hidden assets. Assets or money movement can be hidden behind phony debt payments or business vacation expenses.
  • Uncover bank paperwork: In reviewing paperwork, did you notice any bank names or financial institutions you don’t remember doing active business with? It might be possible that you’ve uncovered a clue to a secret bank account or, at the very least, a safe deposit box that might contain other secret business records.

While your attorney and his or her investigators will likely do the legwork in these matters, putting together lists or concerns backed with plausible information can be a helpful starting point. The divorce process can be a heated, emotional situation and giving yourself time to calmly consider these various hiding places could be the difference between an accurate asset division and leaving money on the table.