Overseas Assets Searches

Did you know that one of the services that Finders International offers is overseas asset searches?

When people die and their affairs aren’t in order, it can be a daunting prospect for executors. They need to search for the papers that will realise the value of the estate.

Obvious checks of what to look for include bank accounts, pensions, property ownership, household possessions, cars, jewellery, boats, investment accounts and bank security deposit boxes, for example.

But the deceased person may also have owned shares in a business, shares not listed on a stock exchange, bonds, timeshares, and other assets such as intellectual property and rights. Some of those assets might be even farther afield, or be difficult to find among the paperwork belonging to the deceased.

Here are a few suggestions which might help you:

  1. Identify the estate’s worldwide assets. People can keep quiet about their foreign bank accounts or other offshore assets. You may need to thoroughly search available documents for the applicable information.
  2. Ask family members if they can confirm the likely contents of overseas bank accounts. Check paperwork for statements, as even old statements can indicate both the likely balance and the account number. It can be very difficult to convince overseas banks to release this information to executors, as they don’t always understand the common law probate role. If you have an idea of the value of the account that can help us to work out how feasible it is to assist you with the accounts closure.
  3. Locate title deeds to any land in Europe or the Caribbean. If the deeds can be found, they will help remove any uncertainty about land ownership. Replacing lost title deeds (which has to be done to transfer ownership of property to beneficiaries) can be expensive and time-consuming.
  4. Locate possible original share certificates. They may not be valid, but might still have to be surrendered in order to claim cash pay-outs or to transfer stock into new names. Overseas, the average replacement value is 2-3 percent as well as the costs of notarising a Lost Securities Affidavit.
  5. Look for shareholder and dividend statements for shareholdings in the UK, North America and Australia. If you aren’t certain about the status of shareholdings owned by the deceased, Finders International can check for you if you can provide a full shareholder reference or account number. (Usually this is printed on the statement or dividend statement.)

Not all assets are what they seem – unfortunately. Many investors have been stung by what is called boiler room share sale fraud. The deceased’s stock certificates look authentic, but they’re really just big numbers of essentially worthless shares which cannot usually be traded.

Some estates include paperwork stating that the deceased owned land or property overseas, or was believed to have inherited it. But there might be gaps in the paperwork and no title deeds. When Finders investigates further, we find that the title to the property is still in the name of the vendor, and was never transferred properly to the deceased.

For an initial, informal discussion about overseas assets searches, missing assets or unclaimed dividends recovery, please call our office on +353 (0)1 691 7252 or email [email protected]