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Myths and truths about offshore accounts

In the movies and other media, one might hear about a villain or even an edgy hero who hides money in an offshore account and then, perhaps at the end of the plot, escapes the country to live in a life of luxury.

In reality, offshore accounts are not as nearly as romantic or mysterious as the movies portray them. For one, offshore accounts are not per se illegal. They are in fact useful investment and banking tools that many people use, including Los Angeles residents without a lot of money, utilize for a variety of reasons.

Moreover, these accounts are not always housed in particularly exotic locations or island nations. Any foreign bank account is technically an offshore account.

When it comes to property division in a divorce or other formal separation, there is no significant problem with offshore accounts so long as both spouses know about their existence and have accurate information about them. In such cases, they can be divided just as any other property belonging to a California couple would be divided.

There may, however, be some practical obstacles to doing this, simply because the couple will have to navigate through the legal framework of more than one country when accessing and dividing the property.

On the other hand, offshore accounts do present legal problems when one member of the splitting couple is using them to stash away money out of the purview of the other party so that he or she can enjoy it all later. This sort of improper behavior has to be responded to with careful and effective legal steps.

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