02 Oct 2017

Don’t be Afraid to Look! Find Potential Assets Online

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Shine a light into potential assets for your estates by searching online! There are many places to search for assets on the Web—and not just in its shadowy corners.

BMS clients Steve Bridgett (assistant to Trustee, Jeoffrey Burtch, in Delaware) and Christopher Williams (assistant to Trustee, Kathryn Ellis, in Washington) presented the topic, “Conducting Searches in Cyberspace,” at the 2017 NABT Annual Convention in New Orleans this past September. Mr. Bridgett and Mr. Williams have shared their findings for this article series.

This month, learn more about the common types of potential assets every Chapter 7 practice should be looking for, as well as where to go on the Web to find out more information.

Real Property

Whether you have a hunch that a debtor has a property in a particular region, or you want to find out more about a property the debtor listed, there are several areas to search online for valuable information on real property.

Comprehensive Property Details

First American Title’s Fastweb is a valuable resource if you want to discover more details about a potential property owned by a debtor. Using myFirstAm, you can access comprehensive details including property ownership, title/escrow order details, and other documents.

In addition, the National Association of Counties website is particularly useful if you need to find out the particular county a debtor’s property is located in.

Real Valuation

Real valuation websites can be useful if you need to verify a debtor’s scheduled valuation of a property before sending an evaluator to examine it. While these websites are not entirely accurate for every property, they are a good starting point to get an idea of the actual property value compared to the debtor’s valuation.

Some real valuation websites include Zillow (complete integration offered in CaseLink²), Redfin, and BoFA Valuator.


Similar to real property, you can find important details about a debtor’s vehicle, vessel or aircraft on the Web.

Public Records

You can discover potential assets or find more in-depth details about a debtor’s vehicle, vessel or aircraft through websites which provide public records for these assets.

Many states’ Departments of Licensing include areas to request vehicle or vessel public records, driver history and more. In addition, the NOAA Vessel Search and FAA Registry are valuable resources for vessel and aircraft details.

Real Valuation

Real valuation websites can again be useful to verify a debtor’s scheduled valuation of an asset before having an auctioneer evaluate it. Some real valuation websites for vehicles include Kelly Blue Book and NADA Guides. For vessels and aircraft, the NOAA Vessel Search and FAA Registry are also useful.

Unclaimed Property

Due to laws in most states which require dormant funds to be turned over to the state if the holder cannot locate the appropriate recipient, unclaimed property can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars. Dormant funds can be found in bank accounts, stock, gift cards, insurance premium refunds, utility refunds, unpaid wages, and more. These funds are free to collect—so it is certainly worth looking into!

National & State Searches

You can conduct a national search for unclaimed funds on MissingMoney.com, and for individual state funds you should consult your state’s Department of Revenue website.

Business Interests

Detailed records about businesses are valuable if you need to serve an adversary complaint for contested matters, find comprehensive business records, and more.

Corporation & LLC Databases

Most Secretary of State websites have a corporation and LLC search database, which can be a good place to start. You can also check out websites for other state departments, agencies and offices which may have searchable databases for non-corporate entities, business formation information, professional and business licenses, bonding and insurance contact information, alternative addresses than the registered agent, and more.

In addition, the Better Business Bureau website can be a very valuable resource for uncovering additional business details.

About Steve Bridgett

Steve Bridgett is the Trustee Assistant for Chapter 7 Trustee Jeoffrey Burtch in Delaware, and has provided case administration assistance to panel trustees since 2006. Mr. Bridgett has been a member of the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees since 2002, and Trustee’s Assistant Liaison to the NABT Board from 2014 – 2016. He is also active in a number of other local and national professional organizations, including the Delaware Paralegal Association, the American Alliance of Paralegals Inc., and the Legal Studies Advisory Board for Wilmington University.

About Christopher Williams

Christopher Williams is the Trustee Assistant and paralegal for Chapter 7 Trustee Kathryn Ellis in Washington state, having served in this role since 2002. Mr. Williams has been a member of the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees since 2004, and was a co-presenter at the 2016 NABT Annual Convention for the session “Show Me the Way: Finding, Valuing, and Inventorying Assets and Tax Consequences.” Mr. Williams is a self-proclaimed “tech nerd” and attributes his expertise in asset cyber sleuthing to his inquisitive nature and inclination to technology.