The beginning of finding assets in a divorce are the documents you collect from your client. For family lawyers it is not the only way to find hidden assets, but a thorough and complete list of documents is an excellent starting point because the “paper trail” can often reveal volumes of information. Some of the most important documents to obtain are: Credit card statements, loan applications trust documents and schedules of assets, financial records of businesses, accountant’s working papers, bank statements including checks and deposit slips, pay stubs and information about compensation packages, and tax returns.
Tax returns are an important place to start. When a person signs their return they are attesting that the information on the return is true and accurate. Certain sections of the tax return are more important than others.
- It’s important to review all sources of income in this section of the return and verify you understand them.
- Pay close attention to business income and income that might come from bank or investment accounts.
- Examine multiple years of tax returns to see if a spouse has dissipated assets in anticipation of divorce.
- Withholding: carefully examine whether the spouse is currently over-withholding expecting a large tax return after the divorce is finalized.