Finding Hidden Assets as you Divorce
In the sunshine state, the law requires an equitable distribution of in any divorce. That means the courts make a determination as to what constitutes marital property, and how much that property is worth. Then the assets and debt are split in a manner that the court believes is fair based on the length of the marriage and other factors. Providing documentation to support your view of an equitable distribution can be key to obtaining a settlement that you believe is fair. Your experienced local divorce attorney may consider working with a forensic CPA toward that end.
Determining Assets and Debt
To be sure, as assets are divided, each party will have to say goodbye to some of their dearly held property. You may be prepared for that, yet remain suspicious that there is some financial hanky-panky afoot. What if you believe your soon-to-be-ex is not disclosing all the assets that rightly are partially yours? That’s when a certified public accountant (CPA) who is familiar with financial dealings can do a deep dive through a variety of documents in order to get to the truth. This is especially important when corporate assets are involved on top of traditional personal property. What might that entail?
Financial Documents Worth Examining
A CPA will look for patterns in an individual ‘s personal and corporate finances. That will require exposing financial documents going back for roughly the past five years. You’d be surprised at the things one can learn from a few crucial documents:
- Taxes: Tax returns provide a look at one’s overall financial health. The forms must be truthful and are signed under penalty of prosecution. Therefore, they often reveal income and assets that might otherwise be challenging to find. In complex filings, spouses often have no idea of what’s contained in the myriad pages, but a CPA can discover all kinds of goodies.
- Receipts and Bills: Spending patterns will reveal a lot. How much disposable income is there? What percentage of income goes into living expenses? Your CPA will want to take a look at mortgage payments, credit card bills, utility payments, travel expenditures, and other such records.
- Corporate Audits: Documents that are part of a corporate audit will shine a light on the details of a company’s finances during a discrete period of time.
- Insurance Policies: A CPA can assess the potential value of specific assets by looking at the amount for which they are insured. Let’s say in the divorce papers your spouse claims that a particular painting is worth $1,000. Your half is $500. Would you be surprised to discover that your spouse has insured that very painting for $10,000? My, my, that makes your ownership in the painting significantly higher. Truth be told, it is not uncommon for spouses to discover assets they had no idea they owned, simply by finding out these ghost items are covered by an insurance policy. A forensic CPA can unearth all kinds of valuables, both private and corporate, with a little bit of time.
- Future Earnings: Don’t forget to contemplate the future value of stock options, company holdings, and retirement plans. These should all be considered as added value in a split.
We Fight on Your Behalf
If you are considering divorce, one of the smartest things you can do right now is to start assembling financial documents. At WiseLieberman, PLLC our knowledgeable Boca Raton divorce attorneys will help you discover the assets your spouse may be trying to conceal by teaming up with a reputable forensic accountant. Our goal is to ensure that you have the most up-to-date understanding of your finances in order to secure a settlement that will be as favorable as possible for you. Contact our office to schedule a confidential consultation today.