A creditor can use all of the discovery tools made available to parties in general litigation. These discovery tools are set forth in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. In addition to the Fact Information Sheet, the creditor may employ all other discovery tools provided to litigants in the Rules of Civil Procedure. These tools include requests to produce documents and depositions under oath. The creditor is permitted to ask detailed and extensive questions about the debtor’s financial affairs. The creditor can ask about all assets in which the debtor has any legal or equitable interest including assets the debtor owns jointly with his spouse or business associates. The creditor can seek discovery directly from third parties such as an examination under oath of the debtor’s spouse.
The debtor must furnish to the creditor all documents the creditor requests related to his financial affairs. Creditors requests documents such as copies of bank statements, check registries, cancelled checks, credit card statements, insurance policies, and tax forms. Creditor attorneys often ask for copies of all financial statements and new credit applications the debtor has submitted to any lender or credit card company in prior years. Debtors often exaggerate their assets and net worth on credit applications and financial statements, and creditors can use these documents to impeach debtor attempts to minimize their collectible assets.
A creditor’s request can include both current and older documents up to at least four years old. The debtor is required to supply all documents requested which are in the custody or control of the debtor. The debtor does not have to provide requested that the debtor does not have or cannot easily obtain.
In addition to requests directed to the judgment debtor a creditor has other methods to discover your assets. There are numerous computer services that a creditor attorney can employ to search public records or banking data to locate assets in the debtor’s name.
A skilled creditor attorney will be able to used the broad discovery tools to find out all your assets. Trying to hide your assets, or lying about your assets, will create more legal problems in addition to the judgment already entered. There is no role for secrecy of assets in asset protection planning.