In my last blog post, I talked about how high net worth divorces can often wind up becoming more complicated, more contentious and take longer simply because there are more assets to divide up. Read the full article here.
However, just because things get complicated doesn’t mean that we ever back down. In fact, when things become hotly contested, we often have to double down and bring in outside opinions to get clarity on exactly how an asset is valued and how it should be viewed.
Here are some examples of experts we may call in to help settle a high net worth divorce case.
Experts to Hire: CPA
Perhaps most essentially, we will often hire a CPA to review the couple’s financial records, especially if the other side has complicated financial transactions.
When a divorce process begins, both sides are required to fully disclose their financial assets and liabilities. They also have to provide financial documentation. However, we don’t take the valuations they provide us at face value; we want to make sure that the valuation is completely fair as determined by an outside expert who has no stake in the outcome of the proceeding.
Remember, the other side is always looking to position their client to get the upper hand. It’s our job to turn over every stone and make sure that we’re receiving fair and unbiased information to form a clear picture of the assets we’re splitting up.
Experts to Hire: Appraiser
Along the same lines, high-value assets like land, vehicles, or businesses will be disclosed to be worth a certain dollar amount. We want to make sure that the amount is fair and true, so we may call in an expert appraiser to get a second opinion.
A typical example of an asset that needs to be appraised is a house. Years ago, I had a case where the other side had the house in Westminster appraised. When the numbers came back, my client didn’t agree with them and decided to get a second opinion. What do you know? The second appraiser found the house to be worth $75,000 more than the first appraiser did. In this day of rapidly increasing property values, an appraisal done six (6) months ago may not reflect the current value.
Value can be subjective. If there’s an asset in question — such as a house, expensive artwork, historic cars, jewelry, businesses, etc., we want to make sure we’re working with realistic numbers that accurately reflect the market value.
Experts to Hire: Investment Professional
Investments can make up a significant percentage of a high net worth divorce’s asset collection. Sometimes we deal with unvested stock that needs to be defined more clearly before we can come to an agreement, or we need to make sure that the invested stock is listed at a fair market value. Often, we also have to consider what tax impacts each of the stocks may have. In other words, the parties can divide stock with equal values. However, when the stock is sold, one (1) party may find that he/she is hit with a much larger capital gains tax obligation than the party that got the other stock.
An investment professional can help us look at the stock and understand whether it’s being evaluated properly.
In general, I believe it is better to hire a fair, unbiased expert to gather the most accurate information possible. If you can afford to hire an expert, it is often well worth it.
Are you preparing to go through a divorce? Call our office at 303-449-1873 to set up a complimentary consultation.