• Categories

  • Archives

  • Pages

  • Who. What.

    For the trial law and legal community from a private investigator's perspective. The Beacon Bulletin is the weekly newsletter authored and published by our parent company, Beacon Network Investigations, LLC (BNI). We're a private investigation company. We DON'T dispense legal advice, respond to anonymous queries or black hat your enemies for you. (Internally, however, points are alloted for perfectly wordsmithed compliments.) We DO hope to inform. That's our business.
  • September 2019
    M T W T F S S
    « Aug    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  
  • Recent Posts

Preparing For a Divorce: The Plan.

It’s hard to imagine planning for a divorce as one is usually in the emotional process of the marriage break up and not focused on the financial aspects.  Considering that money is the number two cause of divorce in the U.S., perhaps the marriage’s economic condition needs stronger monitoring throughout to ensure that foundation remains strong.

But if you have arrived at the point of no return within the marriage, ensure that you do as much as possible to secure your financial future.

1. Secure funds for attorneys, other professionals and the divorce itself.  Plan to have enough funds on hand to pay the professionals and your living expenses for at least three years.,  A divorce can occur within a much shorter time period; it can go longer.  Be prepared.

2. Hire an attorney.  Do not try winging a settlement with your ex by yourself.  (Especially if you are an attorney.) Rarely does a divorce come as a surprise for either partner and each party is going to naturally view asset ownership to benefit themselves.  Divorce is complicated and requires a dedicated and experienced professional who is not emotionally tied to the matter.

3. Collect financial documentation.   Gather bank statements, tax returns, brokerage account statements, credit card statements, real estate documents, mortgage applications and contracts, documents related to major purchases, wills and trust information,  life insurance policies, etc.   While this may appear to be a massive undertaking (and it is), it will prove invaluable during the divorce process.  Knowledge is power.

4. Make lists of all known assets, liabilities, real estate, and business interests.  You require as complete an accounting as possible in a divorce.  Your memory or what you think you own are generally not as reliable as a thorough list of all financial interests.

5. Open accounts only in your name. Open new bank accounts and credit cards, preferably at banks or companies in which you do not have joint accounts. Use completely different passwords than you have in the past.

6. Monitor your credit. Obtain your  credit report and review it for accounts you may not know about.  Look specifically at the bottom of your credit report to determine which companies have made inquiries into your rating.  This may give you an indication of other expenses or assets that your spouse may have secretly secured.

7. Get a secure mailing address and email. You will need a secure address to send the statements for your new accounts, to receive correspondence from your attorney, or to receive other important communication. Do not allow these papers to come to your house, as your spouse could intercept them.  For security and privacy, a post office box is probably the best option. Same for a new email address- select a user name and password that is not easily guessed by your ex.

8. Change beneficiaries and decision-makers. You should change your will and your healthcare proxy to ensure that your spouse does not have decision-making capabilities.  Likewise, regarding the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies and financial accounts.  Do not wait for the divorce to be final to make these changes; anything can happen in the interim.

9. Don’t assume that you will get half of everything in the divorce. State laws vary, and the concept of equitable distribution doesn’t necessarily mean an even split. Pay attention to your attorney’s advice and be prepared to negotiate assets and liabilities with your spouse.

10. Prepare yourself for a lengthy process. Your divorce might be finalized quickly or it might not.  You should be prepared for the long-term scenario as it will allow you to negotiate from a position of strength rather than under financial duress.  Prepare a plan of action with your attorney and other professionals at the outset of the divorce process and negotiate a payment plan at specific benchmarks so that all parties are prepared to see the divorce through to a fair and equitable division of assets.

Finally, emotions will run high on both sides in a divorce but under no condition should you ever take it upon yourself to follow your spouse to determine activity or location of hidden assets, resort to any sort of wiretapping, hacking into smart phones or other devices. Prepare a timeline of important financial events in your marriage (real property purchases, vehicles, pension participation…) and leave it to your attorney and his investigative resources to locate these assets.

A divorce is difficult for all parties involved.  Keep your sites on your future and ensure that you are surrounded by people with the same focus.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

Asset Searches: Defined By Matter Type and Scope

(Contact Beacon Network Investigations)

Generally, an asset search investigation is requested to determine a subject’s tangible assets-  quite often, ordered by a guardian ad litem to satisfy the court that there are no other recoverable assets when injuries exceed insurance policy limits, and just as often to determine financial stability of a prospective partner or employee, (the latter in a position of fiduciary trust).

 

A basic checklist for the legal professional is to:

1. Relay the need-to-know reason to your investigative specialist. A business partnership dissolution v. a medmal case requires a very different focus.

2. Obtain as much lead information from your client as possible. The more information the investigative specialist is given, quite often, the more she can return and, in a more cost-effective manner.

3. Local hard records are often more reliable than those compiled into generalized databases. The first step in recording any asset begins at a local level. Many information companies provide “nationwide” database information. The drawbacks to commencing an asset search on a “dumping ground” database basis first, however, are

a) records update lag (delays up to 18 months),

b) incorrect data collection errors (many nationwide databases can return results only with exact names – misspellings will often register “no hit” status) and

c) incomplete information.

Another aspect of an asset search is a true analysis of the date factors. For e.g., a real estate asset search may return with a negative hit for current property ownership but check the sale dates of the subject’s latest residences.  All too often we’ve come across a recent home sale, leaving the subject with a large sum of money.  Always pay attention to timelines.

So now you, the attorney,  have the subject’s tangible assets information. The subject owns a CPW pied-a-terre, a home in the Kensington section of Great Neck and a boat docked at the Huguenot Marina. The next step, from an investigative standpoint should be to determine if the subject has any liens, judgments, bankruptcies and other pending litigation, and from there, conduct a full criminal background check.

So how far is far enough with an asset search? Assess the potential settlement/judgment. For a large settlement/judgment, request a full background and asset search (certain convictions can prohibit a person from holding officer position in a business); medium settlement/judgment: basic background and asset search and for a small judgment: a basic asset search.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

Basics Of An Employment Background Check

background check

The professional investigator should conduct an employment background check from an experience-based template, outlining his/her methodology.  Aside from the consistency of results, wire-framing the investigation will ensure that the basics of a background check are researched and, serves as a solid springboard once the information pipeline begins to flow.  Starting with the very first step – in all cases – from an entry level employee to a potential new partner, all references and work history should be verified.

Below we will outline the various type of background checks and the situations wherein which they should be conducted.

 

New Hire (Non-Management Level, excepting positions involving access to client and or other financial information:

The most relevant and important features of a comprehensive background check are the:

1. Address, SSN and DOB verification.

2. Criminal history  (This level hire will not include criminal charges – only convictions.)

3. E-Verification clearance ensuring that the potential new hire is in fact legally allowed to work in the U.S.

4. Driving record, if relevant.

New-Hire (Management, fiduciary trust or client financials access and C positions):

A more comprehensive search than a basic new hire background check, those conducted for potential management, C positions and employees with access to client financial information should include the above and:

1. A full credit check.

2. Assets search.

3. An in-depth criminal records review.

New Partner:

In taking on a new partner, including all of the above searches, the following investigations should also occur:

1. Full litigation history.

2. Previous positions and conditions of departure verifications.

3. Professional license search (to ensure licensure validity and uncover professional sanctions, if any).

4. Full criminal check to include researching the backgrounds of the new partner’s former associates.

5. Develop the subject’s public and private profile.  (There are many methods employed by professional detectives that will allow the investigator to acquire the comprehensive information necessary to develop a 360 degree assessment of the subject.)  This is a critical part of  checking the background of a potential partner.  In today’s information age, no one can control all visible aspects of one’s life and there will be the inevitable professional and personal disclosures online.  While no single posting (unless of course it’s of a truly damaging event), will reveal the subject’s true character,  subsequent to assessing the all of the tangible search results, a pattern should become obvious to the investigator which will allow for an accurate analysis of the subject’s behavior.  The past portends the future.

The above recommendations for employment consideration are, as the title states, the basics of a new hire/partner background check.  Each industry – from transportation to healthcare – has in place employment policies specific to the field. By way of example, businesses involved in financial transactions – wherein the personal identifier information of a client may expose her to identity theft –  may have to impose an extra layer of records protection to ensure that this information is not accessed or used in a fraudulent manner.   (See the FTC Red Flag Laws.)

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

%d bloggers like this: