Finding Lost AssetsUnclaimed Property is No Joke - How to Find the Right Help?Guidelines to Ensure You Are Working With a Licensed and Competent Private InvestigatorCorporate Due Diligence and Asset Searches in Litigation

What are Lost Assets?

Lost Assets refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for one year or a longer period. Common forms of lost assets include savings or checking accounts, stocks, un-cashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes.

Why we help Claimants/Heirs?

Since 1999 Thomas Lauth of LII assisted families with the unfortunate crisis of having a missing son or daughter. Throughout his career Mr. Lauth was highly successful in recovering the reported missing who were victims of sex trafficking and adults homeless and suffering from Schizophrenia or Bi-Polar disorder, as well as various cases of foul play. In 2011, Thomas Lauth launched the Lost Assets Division, utilizing his similar skills for missing persons. The Lost Assets division is solely dedicated to locating missing heirs and recovering assets rightfully owed to them.

How we help Heirs?

Lauth Investigations assists heirs in the following ways;

  • Locating and directing heirs the proper legal format to collect their Lost Assets.
  • Prepare the proper documentation to register and defend to the entity for the claimant settlement.
  • Support to our claimants to help recover Lost Assets.
  • Professional referral for legal representative.
  • Using a Licensed Private Investigator to recover your Lost Assets Worldwide

    Many times businesses or holders (claimants) of Lost Assets will hire companies, commonly referred to as heir-finders to locate the rightful owner of unrecovered assets. Prior to a corporate entity turning the lost assets, which is required by law, heir-finders may also contact consumers to notify the individual they may be the rightful owner or heir of unclaimed assets. For the protection of consumers most holder of Lost Assets require heir-finders to be licensed private investigators.

    Benefits of Using a Private Investigation Firm to Represent You

    Private investigators help people recover assets they would not have known existed. When considering representation when filing for Lost Assets, it’s beneficial to be working with professionals who are familiar with the governing laws where the lost assets were located. They will be familiar with all the forms that will be filed, the proper identification, probate laws, court properties, co-claimants and joint claims, beneficiaries, un-redacted wills, death certificates, judicial authority, requirements for claiming personal assets and business assets, etc. Hiring a professional can ensure you receive all of the lost assets you are entitled to and your claim handled with efficiency.

    Heir Tracing – A Complex Matter of Facts

    It is not uncommon when a deceased individual Lost Assets go unnoticed and unrecovered and heirs are not even are aware there is an existing inheritance. Typically required by Trust and Estate Officers or by attorneys, heir searches can be complex. Possible heirs will need to provide required legal documentation to prove and establish their identities to the individual, are related as a family member who may be alive or deceased. Heir searches may also be conducted on behalf of guardians, executors, private fiduciaries, conservators and trustees.

    Searches for heirs can take a day or can become quite complicated taking an incredible amount of research on the Internet, in courthouses, libraries, census records, birth, death and adoption, marriage or divorce records. Investigators are not only researchers they become genealogists.


    What is Unclaimed Property?

    So you get a call from someone who tells you there is a half-million dollars that belongs to you and is being held in a state trust. Next , they asks you to sign a contract to pay a small fee to receive assistance recovering the unclaimed property. Sound like a scam?

    Recently, the Washington Post reported over $32 billion in unclaimed money in the United States. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, every state including District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have unclaimed property. programs usually administered by the state treasury to actively attempt to find rightful owners of assets that have been lost or simply forgotten. Unclaimed money can end up in a state trust simply by an individual moving, not having their mail forwarded, having a death in the family, assets not documented in a will, misplaced documents or a safe deposit box that may have belonged to an individual and other family members who were not aware of it. The unclaimed funds do not become property of the state and remain in trust until a rightful owner or a legal heir claims the money. It is estimated 1 in 10 people have unclaimed money held in state trusts.

    Source: Washington Post, National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, Missouri State Treasurer

    As one of the original consumer protection programs, unclaimed property laws have existed since the 1940s. State laws require financial institutions, insurance companies, public agencies and businesses to report and turn over assets that belong to a customer, client or employee. If there is documented proof that no transactions have occurred or there has been lack of contact with the owner for five or more years. The property typically consists of cash in bank accounts, securities, bonds, escrow accounts, contents of safe deposit boxes, pensions, uncollected insurance policies, government and state refunds, utility deposits and even wages from previous employment.

    Source: National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, Missouri State Treasurer

    Contents of safe deposit boxes are usually held for one to three years after an individual has stopped paying rent on the box. If the contents are not claimed, the state can auction the items within one to five years and proceeds from the sale are recorded in the name of the safe deposit holder. The proceeds are then held in trust until the owner or heir is located. Everything from currency, stamps, diamond rings, watches, sports cards and other collectibles such as, coins, medals, even letters signed by Presidents have been found upon opening unclaimed safe deposit boxes. A 2010 law passed in Missouri prohibits the sale of unclaimed military medals which are held until claimed by the rightful owner or heir.

    Source: National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, Missouri State Treasurer

    Most states maintain websites that contain names of individuals that have property listed within their state and there is no time limit for filing a claim. Attempts to locate rightful owners of unclaimed property by the state can include publishing names in state newspapers in hopes an individual will respond. States also use various websites, cross-referencing public data, public awareness programs and the use of a national database to help locate heirs.
    Source: Missouri State Treasurer, Arizona Department of Revenue – Unclaimed Property Unit

    Recently, the state of Missouri returned a record $6.1 million in Unclaimed Property to a woman in Kansas City. Though the name of the recipient has not been released by the state, it was confirmed that the unclaimed property was made up of one security. Apparently her ancestors invested in an obscure company and stock was lost over the generations while growing in worth.
    Source: Missouri State Treasurer, Washington Post, Kansas City Star

    Recommendations – Using a Licensed Private Investigator to Assist in Unclaimed Property Recovery

    Many times businesses or holders of unclaimed funds will hire companies, commonly referred to as heir-finders to locate the rightful owner of unclaimed assets. Prior to turning the unclaimed property over to the state as required by law, Heir-finders may also contact consumers to notify the individual they may be the rightful owner or heir of unclaimed funds. For the protection of consumers most states require heir-finders to be licensed private investigators.
    Source: Unclaimed Money Finder, Missing Money.com, azunclaimed.gov

    Though there are many free websites available for trying to locate unclaimed property or funds, not all missing money or property has been listed in government or state databases due to various reasons. The most common reason is due to a specific time frame which has not expired so the unclaimed property is not turned over to the state. A claim for money may have been filed by someone else so data may have been removed from the database pending proof of ownership; and in a few states, after 10 years, the state will transfer money to the state treasury.
    Source: Good Morning America, Yahoo News, Unclaimed Money Finder, AZ-UCP

    Benefits of Using a Private Investigation Firm to Represent You

    Private investigators help people recover assets they would not have known existed. When considering representation when filing for Unclaimed Property, it,s beneficial to be working with professionals who are familiar with laws governing the state were the unclaimed property was located They will be familiar with all the forms that will be filed, The proper identification, probate laws, court properties, co-claimants and joint claims, beneficiaries, un-redacted wills, death certificates, judicial authority, requirements for claiming personal property and business property, etc. Hiring a professional can ensure you receive all of the unclaimed funds you are entitled to and your claim handled with efficiency.
    Source: National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, Arizona Department of Revenue – Unclaimed Property Unit, www.azunclaimed.gov, Utah State Treasurer

    Heir Tracing – A Complex Matter of Facts

    It is not uncommon when an individual passes away that their heirs (related or unrelated) are not even are aware there is an existing inheritance. Typically required by Trust and Estate Officers or by attorneys, heir searches can be complex. Possible heirs will need to provide required legal documentation to prove and establish their identities to the individual, are related as a family member who may be alive or deceased. Heir searches may also be conducted on behalf of guardians, executors, private fiduciaries, conservators and trustees.
    Source: National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, Arizona Department of Revenue – Unclaimed Property Unit, www.azunclaimed.gov, National Unclaimed Property

    Searches for heirs can take a day or can become quite complicated taking an incredible amount of research on the Internet, in courthouses, libraries, census records, birth, death and adoption, marriage or divorce records. Investigators are not only researchers they become genealogists.

  • Direct Search – A search could involve searching for one individual or expanded to search for the individual’s family members such as children, if the property owner is deceased.
  • Multiple Search – A Multiple Search would include locating multiple related individuals if those initially located are found deceased.
  • Heirs at Law – When attempting to identify heirs for a trust or estate, law requires heirs to be located in order of consanguinity
  • Lineal Search – A Lineal Search must identify if the deceased have any living relatives such as; children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren. If no living lineal relatives can be located, a lineal search can be conducted to one generation back, referred to as Level I Heirs.
  • Level I Heirs –are comprised of; parents, siblings (whole or half), nieces, or nephews. If no heirs can be located probate law may require the search to be expanded to Level II Heirs.
  • Level II Heirs – could include; grandparents, aunts, uncles, first cousins and usually requires both maternal and paternal searches.
  • Level III Heirs – though not a common search this type includes; great-grandparents and their descendants.
  • Source: www.azunclaimed.gov, Association of Professional Genealogists, TDHowes.com, heirsearch.com

    How to Prevent Your Property from Becoming Abandoned

  • Keep good records of all bank accounts.
  • Record stock certificates and cash,and all dividend checks received.
  • Record all security deposits to include, utilities, rental properties. Telephone, etc.
  • When moving be sure to notify all banking, broker, credit card companies, insurance companies, safe deposit box account are properly notified. Also send notification if you are to get married or divorced.
  • Ensure you have a will and place it in a location it will be found in the event of emergency or inform a trusted friend or attorney of its location.
  • Source: Maine Treasurer, National Unclaimed Property Network, Utah State Treasurer

    Links

  • National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators
  • National Association of State Treasurers
  • Any time you hire an individual or company to provide a service whether it may be a simple home repair or as important as hiring someone to watch your children it is always a good idea to check the background of the business or individual you may be contemplating on hiring. This is also recommended as a good rule of thumb to also investigate the investigator when hiring a firm to assist you in any private investigation.

    Commonly private investigators assist companies, individuals and attorneys with services that can identify, locate, analyze and verify information about personal, financial or legal matters. From providing employment verification to investigating identity theft, harassment and infidelity, private investigators also perform surveillance and conduct interviews when assisting attorneys in case preparation of civil and criminal cases.

    Private investigators play an important role in ensuring facts are documented and presented in a legal manner acceptable by courts throughout the country.

    Taking into consideration Federal and State Laws privacy laws, working with a licensed private investigator or firm is the first step to make certain that information and the manner it is obtained is legal, accurate and admissible in court. Many times private investigators must make judgment calls and vital you are working with individuals of the highest integrity.

    Most private investigators have worked in the criminal justice field and some even former law enforcement. Despite credentials, it is important to verify the individual or firm you are working with is also licensed to carry out the work to be performed. Though not every state requires a private investigator to be licensed, doing some of your own footwork can ensure you are protected and even save you time and money.

    For states that do require private investigators to be licensed, most require the investigator to be over the age of eighteen, a combination of education or work experience in the field of criminal justice. They must also pass a criminal history background check. For those who carry firearms, they must meet additional requirements. To verify the license of a private investigator or firm contact your state licensing entity.

    Corporate Structure

    Unlike typical businesses or limited liability companies (LLC’s), corporations are structured differently and created under the laws of a state to establish it as a separate entity of its Board of Directors. Various forms of corporations exist and the actions of the corporate officers are governed by the bylaws of the entity.

    Though not universal throughout the United States, one aspect of a corporation is in the event that a corporation fails, shareholders, may lose their investments, members may lose their positions and employees may lose their jobs but will not be held liable for remaining debts owed to the corporation’s creditors.

    Corporations are generally accepted by law to have responsibilities similar to that of an individual and can exercise rights against other individuals and entities, and even be held responsible for violations and criminal offenses, such as fraud. Many corporations are created as entities of perpetual duration and can exist indefinitely until legally dissolved voluntarily by members or shareholders, statutorily, or by court order.

    Corporate Litigation

    Corporate litigation is a complex area of law that can include a variety of tort and contractual claims, such as breach of contract, fraud, infringement of intellectual property, and breach of fiduciary duties. Commercial insurance disputes can also be a source of litigation when an insurance claim is undervalued and denied as a fair claim requiring the claimant to sue to recover the amount they are entitled to. During any corporate or business dispute, it is advisable to attempt to resolve the dispute through negotiation or arbitration. However, if the dispute(s) cannot be resolved, litigation can be utilized to resolve the dispute(s).

    Corporate Disputes and Legal Considerations

  • Employment Law Disputes
  • Corporate Contract Negotiation
  • Breach of Contract and General Contract Disputes
  • Payment Disputes
  • Non-Compete Agreements
  • Property sell and purchasing
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Commercial Leasing Disputes
  • Insurance Disputes
  • Employee Fraud/Embezzlement
  • Corporate Partnership Disputes
  • Business Torts
  • Why Companies in Litigation Over 500K Should Conduct Asset Searches

    When facing corporate litigation in excess of $500K, the decision makers of the corporation must take into consideration the cost of legal representation, if the defendant has assets and evaluate if the costs of litigation are worthwhile. A comprehensive asset search can quickly identify property that could be attached to satisfy a judgment if located or be used as a powerful negotiation tool between the parties prior to ever initiating a lawsuit. It is recommended any corporation weighing the pros and cons of pursuing litigation that may result in a judgment in excess of $500K first have an all-inclusive asset search conducted to determine if a judgment can be collected.

    Private investigators and investigative firms have the capability of assisting a corporation even prior to initiating litigation by reviewing financial records, trace and discover fiscal misrepresentations, confirm accurate financial information and locate hidden assets enabling corporate representatives to make an informed decision whether to pursue litigation. If litigation is pursued, it becomes paramount to ensure the information collected is comprehensive and presented in an understandable and simplified form that will be admissible in court.

    The Role of In-House Corporate Attorneys

    An in-house corporate attorney advises corporations on the entity’s legal rights, duties and responsibilities of the corporate officers, along with ensuring all commercial transactions and contracts are handled legally. Corporate lawyers typically have experience and knowledge in licensing, contract and tax law, corporate structure, zoning, security law, accounting, intellectual rights, bankruptcy and any other laws specific to the companies they represent.

    In-house corporate attorneys act more as facilitators and negotiators in the role of corporate transactions, reviewing and drafting documents, structuring deals and attending meetings. A corporate attorney’s duties can vary from acting in an advisory capacity to negotiating corporate mergers and acquisitions.

    The Role of an Outside Civil Litigation Attorney

    An in-house corporate attorney who primarily acts in an advisory and negotiation capacity, may determine that civil litigation is the only way to remedy a dispute. A civil attorney deals specifically with disputes between corporations and /or individuals and is a branch of law focused on representing those who compensation may be awarded. Civil litigation typically focuses on contracts, torts, and other disputes as mentioned above.

    Civil law is different from other types of law as it is designed to ensure agreements are honored and settle disputes; in essence to ‘right a wrong’ and ensure the victim is compensated. In any type of case it is important for a corporation or attorney to conduct due diligence on the potential defendant before expending money and time in pursuing a claim that may never be repaid because the defendant has no assets, has minimized or successfully hidden assets.

    The Role of Creditor Rights Attorney

    Creditor Rights Attorneys represent creditors who are attempting to collect money borrowed and loans not repaid. While debtors are protected by the Fair Collections Practices Act, it is still necessary for the creditor to make every attempt to obtain a judgment requiring the debtor to repay the loan. Debt falls into two categories; secured and unsecured.

    Secured debt is when a loan is secured with collateral with some type of property to ensure repayment should the debtor fail to make payments. An unsecured loan is debt that has no property or collateral to secure the loan, therefore if the debtor defaults the creditor must make attempts to collect the amounts owed. Repossession of secured personal property must follow State Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Creditor Rights Attorneys assist creditors with creditor litigation, liens, domestic and foreign judgments, garnishments and collection services.

    Types of Services That Can Assist Corporations and Attorneys in Due Diligence Asset Searches Asset search companies and licensed private investigative firms that specialize in providing comprehensive asset searches can provide invaluable assistance to attorneys and corporations such as financial institutions, debt recovery units, government agencies, and private individuals in recovering assets.

    Corporate Summaries identify corporate EIN, DUNS, estimated sales, and income; to include the number of employees, operating locations, employee profiles and structure of the potential target corporation.

  • Identify names of Officers and Directors and management teams of potential target corporation.
  • Identified potential target corporation’s clientele, nature of business and volume of business with each clientele.
  • Identifies potential target corporation’s vendors, suppliers, logistics and financial institutions.
  • Credit and payment analysis for 12-36 months to include creditors and debt amounts.
  • Search of court records.
  • Identifies all physical locations of potential target corporation and tangible assets and on-site physical confirmation of assets such as machinery and equipment.
  • Analyze annual production capacity.
  • Identify financial institutions, brokerage firms and off-shore assets.
  • Domain names, website traffic and domain’s estimated value.