I recently published a series of blog posts on the importance of considering your digital assets in your estate planning. Well, if you are an executor or successor trustee and are trying to find a decedent’s assets or determine if a young trust fund beneficiary is telling you the truth about their dire conditions and how badly he needs a distribution, you might want to do what some savvy investigators are doing. Check social media.
“Cashed-up parents are getting caught by the law thanks to their social media-loving kids, who aren’t so savvy when it comes to keeping a low profile online. Instagram has become the site of choice for children of wealthy parents to flaunt their cash, expensive toys and luxury lifestyles. But the naive children are exposing their parents to fraud investigators and criminals, London‘s Telegraph reports. . . .
Top cybersecurity firms said they were using evidence from social media in up to 75 percent of their litigation cases.
Oisín Fouere, managing director of K2 Intelligence in London, said social media was its “first port of call” when examining the transactions of the super-rich.
In one debt recovery case, a man claimed to have no items of significant value, but one of his children exposed that lie by posing on the family’s $22 million yacht in the Bahamas.
. . .
Andrew Beckett, managing director of cybersecurity and investigations at Kroll, said the firm found multimillion-pound hidden assets in a divorce case last year where a husband had claimed he was almost broke.
They found the hidden money and assets by monitoring the location of his children’s social media posts, The Telegraph reports.” Rich parents blindsided after kids out them on social media
As a fiduciary, don’t forget about the information that people put online. It may help you to locate assets. Or as mentioned above, such digital information may expose a beneficiary in his or her lie.
And when it comes to asset protection, some people go about it all wrong. Proper asset protection planning is not about hiding assets, but rather structuring assets in legitimate legal structures that have recognized protection under the law. Nevertheless, some people insist on hiding assets and then claiming poverty, even though they continue to live a lifestyle that is not consistent with being out of money. And how might you know? Just like the investigators above, check on the kids’ Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. You are likely to learn a lot about how the family is really doing.