Finding Hidden Money

Everyone likes finding money unexpectedly, but there may be a time when you need to find assets but do not know where to look.  If aged relatives or friends have given you power of attorney over their financial affairs, you may have to garner their assets to pay for their care.  Or, you could be the executor of their estate and need to find all of the assets to be distributed to their beneficiaries.   

For whatever reason, some people are very private about their cash, investments or other valuables and place them in accounts that no one knows about.  In the past, the job of locating them was a very difficult task.  With today’s technology, electronic discovery is making it a lot easier to uncover that activity.  For your electronic search you need to be aware of the methods you use to insure that they are legal and you do not get into trouble, such as:

  • You might be able to use the person’s computer to review the browsing history to discover sites that might be related to financial transactions.  Look into the ‘favorites’.  Review emails.  There may be Word or Excel or QuickBooks files that might contain information about assets.
  • Another simple way to get started is to do a Google search using the person’s name to discover activities and associations that the person might have.
  • If the person worked, they might have a pension.  Do a Google search on the company and see if the company website talks about employee benefits.
  • Check online-only finanical sites like PayPal to ensure you aren’t missing something without a paper trail. Websites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter might be helpful as the person may have talked about financial transactions or places that they visited.
  • There are a number of free websites that you can search for real estate ownership throughout the country.

No doubt the search can be trying, but necessary.  The best way find the assets is to not have to look.  Have ongoing discussions with anyone who has entrusted you with their financial affairs, and make sure they leave you a list or book of information regarding their affairs.  This is also true for each of you–please make sure that information can be readily available for your beneficiaries if something happens to you.