Offshore accounts can they raise issues

It might be surprising how many Kansas City residents, even those who live in typical suburbs in the area and hold ordinary jobs, engage in offshore banking.

Contrary to what one might have gathered in the movie and in reading about the tax schemes of some unscrupulous wealthy people, offshore accounts are not illegal. In general, a person is free to put their money in the financial institution of a foreign country and may well have lots of legitimate reasons for doing so.

However, when it comes to property division in a divorce or formal separation, offshore accounts do present some important legal issues. For one, like any other piece of property, foreign bank accounts are subject to an equitable, or fair, division if they are a marital asset.

This means that the owner of the account has to acknowledge and account for the offshore funds during the course of the divorce in some manner. While one would hope that the owner would be fair and acknowledge the account candidly, in contentious divorces, one party may have to do some careful legal investigation in order to discover the account's existence.

Of course, if a person does have to do digging to get to the truth, they may be able to hold the owner of the account legally responsible for their lack of candor.

Even if everything is above board, however, handling an offshore account still can raise some complications. Getting information about the account or transferring ownership of it, for instance, can be complicated since it will involve the law of at least two countries.

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