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When asset protection takes on a sinister twist

Many people likely think of estate planning professionals when they hear the words "asset protection." And, of course, safeguarding wealth is a core concern of estate administration practitioners focused upon promoting their clients' best financial interests.

A recent article on marital assets reveals a darker underbelly of the industry, though. That is a realm participated in by a select group of individuals and firms that promote the game of "now you see it, now you don't."

"It" in the above sentence refers to marital wealth that should be accurately identified, valued and equitably distributed between parties in a divorce. That proper outcome is circumvented when spouses in given cases turn to sophisticated partners hired to make assets disappear.

The above-cited article notes that estate planning for the unscrupulous "is but a euphemism to describe asset concealment." And when the magnitude of wealth sought to be disguised is significant, a bad-faith spouse with contacts and resources can often find willing partners commanding great concealment skills who gladly perform for-a-fee services.

That can mean the dumping of marital assets in offshore entities and trusts, commensurate with twisting trails of complicated paperwork that can make tracing a real chore.

Finding such assets and bringing them to a court's attention is certainly a doable proposition for a defrauded marital partner, though, especially in instances where deceit is timely suspected and acted upon by an innocent spouse. A proven high-asset divorce attorney with demonstrated experience in property-division matters can closely investigate suspected wrongdoing, and will be able to identify for a client additional parties (such as a forensic accountant) who might assist in the process.

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