Asset Searches: Defined By Matter Type and Scope

(Contact Beacon Network Investigations)

Generally, an asset search investigation is requested to determine a subject’s assets-  quite often to satisfy the court that there are no other recoverable assets when injuries exceed insurance policy limits, or, unrelatedly, 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 investigative 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. Recognize that (still in 2020) that locally-maintained governmental records are often more reliable than those compiled into general databases. The first step in recording any asset begins at a local level. Many information companies provide “nationwide” database information.  However, the drawbacks to commencing an asset search through a “dumping ground” database basis first, are

a) records update lag time (information can be as old as 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 assets acquisition and dissolvement. 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, that will not show up in a current real property search.  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- if a judgment is entered against the subject, you will want to know if you are Number 1 or the tenth in line to collect.  We suggest also conducting a full criminal background check on your subject, especially if fraud or embezzlement is suspected.  This may not be your subject’s first illicit activity rodeo. Often, if law enforcement and a DA’s office has been involved, there may be valuable information to gather (such as the subject is currently on parole).

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.

Conducting A Pre-Placement Nursing Home Investigation

nursing-home

Given that people are now living well into their 80s and commonly, their 90s and 100+ years of age, nursing home placement is a valid option for seniors.  Family members may wish to conduct a thorough investigation before selecting a place to live for their aging loved one. We suggest doing the following:

  • Conduct several physical walk-throughs of the facility with at least one or two unannounced visits being on different days/times,
  • Make note of facility staffing levels and responsiveness of caregivers at random times.
  • Observe the overall cleanliness conditions of the facility.

The leading cause of abuse and neglect in nursing home is insufficient staffing.   You may want to pay particular attention to the number of staff members and the adequacy of their response time and effectiveness when responding to assistance requests from elderly residents, especially those with significant health issues.

Our friends at Montlick & Associates also suggest the following:

An effective pre-placement investigation also might include interviewing the administrator about hiring practices and background check; minimum and average staffing levels; procedures to prevent falls, pressure sores, infection or wandering; procedures to ensure proper nutrition, hydration and medication; and other issues related to safety and quality of care. A valuable resource that you may wish to consult is Medicare.gov Nursing Home Comparison Website. This site provides detailed reviews, comparisons and inspection histories for nursing homes that accept Medicare.

Confirm Implementation of Safety Protocols: Nursing homes generally are required to implement special procedures for elderly residents that suffer from physical or mental impairments that pose a greater risk of injury. Family members should inquire about such special procedures if a love one has limited mobility, or an aging family member is prone to falls or wandering. The administrator usually will outline such special safety precautions during the intake process. It may be advisable for family members to follow-up regarding these special procedures to ensure they are actually implemented.

Once you finally do settle on a nursing home, be alert for and follow up on unexplained injuries or changes in mood.  While there are innocent explanations for bruises, dislocations, abrasions, broken bones or depression, any injuries or sudden changes in behavior or mood by a senior merit closer examination. While it can sometimes be difficult to determine the cause of such injuries or changes in personality if an elderly nursing home resident suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to pay careful attention to these signs. If serious or repeated injury occurs, this may constitute an even greater cause for concern.

All sound advice and remember, the elderly deserve our appreciation, attention and guardianship as they enter the twilight moments of their lives.  Quality of life is important at every age in life.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.