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How Long Does A Financial Asset Search Take?

Updated: Sep 13

Asset search investigations come in many forms and for several reasons. When our firm is asked how long an asset investigation will take, we answer the question after we learned more about the clients specific needs and the person or, subjects lifestyle.

Clock on a wall with time being critical to asset search
Time Is Not On Your Side In an Asset Investigation

A financial asset search can take one week to 30 days. There are many factors to consider in order to ensure a timely result for any asset investigation. Timely results come from as much subject information as possible. Is this pre-divorce litigation? Is this for civil suits for perhaps the victim of a car accident who wants to sue the other party? The time it takes to conduct an asset investigation is also dependent on how specific the client needs the private investigator to be. As an example: Are they looking for all properties in the subjects name, or personal and business names? Do we truly know all the businesses of the subject, or could some be hidden by holding companies? By in large most asset searches can be completed within 30 days or less.


In the world of financial investigations, asset search investigations stand as a crucial element that aids in uncovering the true financial standing of individuals or entities. Whether it is for litigation, debt recovery, or personal reasons, understanding the timeframe of an asset search investigation can provide a strategic edge. But, how long does an asset search investigation take? Let’s delve deeper into the intricacies involved in these investigations and discern the timeline involved.

Phase One: Planning and Preparation (1-2 Weeks)

Depending on what you need to know, where the person is located (country), and the background of ther person, it could take a week or two to gather all the relevant facts that are needed to conduct the investigation.

Understanding the Purpose

Firstly, establishing the core objective is paramount. Identifying why you need the investigation helps in tailoring a focused approach, thereby potentially speeding up the process. If you know you need only banking records for the State of Arkansas, then there is a beeline to getting that work completed within 7 days. However, if you are needing a full asset investigation, then please continue reading on.

Assembling a Competent Team

A team of experienced investigators forms the backbone of a successful asset search. Seasoned professionals bring speed and efficiency to the process.

Phase Two: Preliminary Investigation (5-7 days)

Background Check

This is the stage where investigators gather essential data on the individual or entity involved. It usually takes a few weeks to complete, depending on the complexity of the case.

Identifying Assets

Here, investigators initiate the groundwork to locate assets such as real estate, business interests, and personal property. It's a detailed process that requires meticulous attention to detail.

Phase Three: Deep Dive Investigation (2 Weeks)

Scrutinizing Financial Records

In this phase, every financial record is scrutinized, which can take up a substantial chunk of time, especially if there are numerous accounts and transactions involved.

On-Site Investigations

Sometimes, the investigation may require physical verification of assets. This approach, though time-consuming, ensures a more accurate assessment of the assets in question.

Phase Four: Report Compilation and Analysis (1 week)

Compiling the Findings

Once the asset search is nearing completion, the investigators start compiling the data meticulously into a comprehensive report.

Analysis and Interpretation

Analysts then take over to interpret the data, identifying patterns and correlations to present a detailed picture of the individual or entity’s financial standing.

Phase Five: Conclusion (1-2 Weeks)

Final Review

Before the final report is handed over, a final review is conducted to ensure all findings are accurate and verifiable, adding a layer of trustworthiness to the findings.

Presentation of the Report

Finally, the comprehensive report is presented to the client, with every detail uncovered during the investigation laid bare, providing a complete overview of the assets uncovered.

Example Is Based On In-Depth Asset Investigations

To answer the pressing question, "How long does an asset search investigation take?" we can conclude that it is largely variable depending on the complexity of the case, and the depth of the investigation required. However, a general timeframe spans anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks from the inception to the conclusion of the investigation. This timeline is based on a systematic progression through phases of planning, preliminary investigation, deep-dive investigation, and report compilation. Understanding this timeline not only aids in setting realistic expectations but also in carving out a strategic approach to asset search investigations, aligning efforts efficiently to uncover the truth with precision and diligence. It is always recommended to facilitate the process with a team of seasoned professionals, who bring expertise and a meticulous approach to ensure success in the asset search investigation.

Financial Asset Search - Start Now!

One of the most important things on an asset search is to start now, don’t wait until the last minute. More often, then not, litigators and private clients feel the need to start an asset investigation with a week or two left before a deposition or court date. This is not a good tactic and we likely cannot help you on a deep asset search with that type of time frame.

We can, however, recommend that should you need a comprehensive bank account or brokerage account search, that you get started now.

You Use Database Searches - “Why Can’t You Just Download Information?”

All of our investigations do use databases for research. For example, we don't use a database to search for bank accounts. We search for bank accounts via ledgers. Sure, we may find a property in someone's name via a data base, but it still needs corroboration. Our asset investigations take on many forms of collecting information, sifting the information, and understanding it's context.

Also, another point to consider is that should you need source material, not the fallible database information, then you cannot possibly have that wrapped up with a pretty little bow on top with a short time to get the investigation completed.

chart for financial asset search
Asset Searches Can Be Different For Everyone - Start Early, Don't Wait!

Court Runners

We have court runners that we send to scour public filings and information. When we are at the point of needing field work, we need to assign people that are specialized in locating the information we direct them to obtain. They will need to understand what we want, why we feel they can collect this information at a particular court house and what exactly they should copy and get certifications on. This does not happen as quickly as one might think. These researchers stay busy and just like any other legitimate business, they need to schedule their work.

Uncover Overseas Asset Search Service

What if you require investigation into overseas properties, accounts, policies and companies? Well, I can say with certainty that you will not get this done as quickly as you might think, and yes, even though we have a lot of technology at our disposal, overseas asset searches are very time consuming.

Searching For Bank Accounts

With legal permissible purposes it is possible to search for bank and brokerage accounts in a reasonable time. Should you need to locate bank accounts quickly we can accomplish those in about 7 business days. We offer some basic searches that take 3 business days, but our more comprehensive searches take up to 7 days as they cover more current technologies to locate bank accounts and possible fiat currency.

Searching for Brokerage Accounts

Like searching for bank accounts, brokerage accounts can be located in relatively quick order (5-7 days) should you have a legal reason or what is known as a permissible purpose. Permissible purposes are for legal proceedings, judgements, and debt recovery.

A brokerage account, maintained by a licensed brokerage firm, enables investors to purchase and sell a diverse range of investments, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs. It is a good bet that we would to locate brokerage accounts within the 5-7 day time frame as well.

computer screen online banking
Locating Bank Accounts Requires Certain Permissible Purpose Laws To Be Followed

Searching For an Estate and Probate

When a person dies, their estate must go through the process of probate. Probate is the legal process of distributing a person's assets after they die. If the person had a will, the executor of the will is responsible for distributing the assets according to the will. If the person did not have a will, the court will appoint an administrator to distribute the assets according to state law.

The first step in probating an estate is to search for the decedent's will. The will must be filed with the court in order to begin the probate process. If the decedent did not have a will, the next step is to find and file any other estate planning documents they may have, such as trusts or beneficiary designation forms.

Once all of the necessary paperwork has been filed, the court will issue an order appointing an executor or administrator. The executor or administrator is responsible for gathering all of the decedent's assets and paying any debts and taxes owed. They will then distribute the assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or state law.

There are many steps in conducting an estate and probate asset search and these too can take 30 days plus to work out the details.

Missing Assets

What if there are assets that should be there, but are not? Are we beginning another phase of investigation that requires us to perhaps look at where the assets may physically be? Do we need to assign a surveillance team to go to these locations to track down the missing assets? If so, this is another factor that will take a minimum of two weeks, and that is with the investigation in after-burner.

A Message to Litigators

Waiting will only get you a really poorly conducted asset search. We recommend that you advise your clients immediately to prepare for and budget to begin an asset investigation immediately. Even a exploratory investigation can yield strong potential information prior to the litigation taking place. Then, perhaps you have us go a little deeper as you see the case unfold.

During a dispute, an asset investigation then takes on an urgency where mistakes can be made. This is a disservice to the client and the law firm. We cannot help a firm that comes to us with “one-week to live” scenarios as the cost effectiveness of the search goes right out the window.

man pointing to post it notes during asset search
Private clients should not wait. Don't make what could be a reasonable cost become an expensive cost. Time decays information.

Private Clients Contact Us Immediately!

Perhaps you are an administrator, executor or a financial institution. Or perhaps you are beginning divorce proceedings. We want you to contact us immediately.

Every week, someone contacts Private and needs something done yesterday. We have seen our own work product fall short when we work under untimely and shotgun requests. We no longer work this way. We want to help you, but we do not want you to suffer from poorly gathered intelligence.

Financial Institution Asset Search

A financial institution asset search is a type of due diligence investigation that is conducted in order to locate and identify the assets of a financial institution. This type of search is often used in the context of mergers and acquisitions, as well as other types of transactions. The search is typically conducted by a third-party firm that specializes in this type of work.

Executor Asset Investigation

An executor asset investigation is a process that is used to determine whether or not a person has the assets that they claim to have. This process is often used in cases where there is suspicion that someone may be hiding assets in order to avoid paying debts or taxes. In order to conduct an investigation, the executor will need to obtain financial records and documents related to the person's assets. They will then review these documents and look for any discrepancies. If any assets are found to be hidden, the executor will take appropriate action to recover them.

Administrator Asset Investigation

As an administrator, it is important to investigate any assets that may be under your control. This includes ensuring that they are properly accounted for and that they are being used in accordance with company policy. Additionally, you should also verify that the assets are in good condition and are not being abused. If you find any discrepancies, you should report them to your superior.

Estate Administration Asset Search

Estate administration asset search is the process of identifying and valuing all the assets of a deceased person. This includes bank accounts, investments, real estate, and personal property. The administrator then uses this information to pay debts and distribute the assets to beneficiaries.

Closing Note On How Long Asset Searches Take

Every form of an asset investigation takes time. Calling us with one week before a deposition will be a waste of time and yield sloppy results. Plan for your search ahead of time, and allow us time to leave no stone unturned, and provide you with a comprehensive asset investigation.

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