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For High Net Worth Divorces, Consider a Forensic Accountant

Posted on in Division of Assets

b2ap3_thumbnail_forensic-accountant-high-net-worth-divorce.jpgHave you ever heard of a forensic accountant? You may be thinking of something related to a crime scene, and you are not far off. Much like a forensic analyst analyzes a crime scene looking for clues, a forensic accountant analyzes personal assets. The term forensic means their findings are suited for a court of law and, as such, forensic accountants are called upon in cases of fraud, negligence, money laundering, and bankruptcy, to name a few. They are able to navigate the intricate world of high net worth individuals and corporations, exploring things like stateside and offshore bank accounts, different stock market investments, and valuing expensive personal belongings. Forensic accountants have also been called upon to assist with high net worth divorces. They play a key role in ensuring that both spouses get exactly what is owed to each of them, and are able to identify any withheld assets that one partner may be keeping from the other.

Help Where it is Needed

Forensic accountants are often called on for business purposes: A shady business partner may spark an investigation; a person declaring bankruptcy may need to show official proof of their total assets; someone may be under examination for tax fraud, and the government may need a forensic accountant to analyze their tax returns. The list goes on and on, and also includes a job that is becoming more and more common for forensic accountants, namely high net worth divorces. A divorce, in its most basic sense, is a separation and division of lives and assets. For most Americans, the process is not terribly complicated. Cars, properties, and bank accounts are divided between the spouses and things remain relatively simple. Even debts can be split and delegated equitably to each partner.

For couples with high net worth and complex financial situations, things are not quite as simple. It is not possible to divide assets evenly if both parties are not aware of what their assets are. Many wealthy couples possess many different types of assets. They can include:

  • Businesses;
  • Partnerships;
  • High value items (such as works of art, expensive furniture, collectable cars, etc.); and
  • Various investment portfolios.

These cases tend to involve assets being held in different locations. Retirement accounts, stateside and offshore accounts, and stock portfolios must all be analyzed. For the most part, this type of investigating is outside of divorce attorneys' skill sets, so many turn to forensic accountants. Even in amicable divorce situations, a forensic accountant’s help may be necessary, simply to evaluate the total assets of the couple so things can be split equitably.

Uncovering the Truth

Things get tricky in shadier divorce cases. Someone with a high net worth and money stored in many different locations could easily con their partner out of what is rightfully theirs. It can be extremely easy for one spouse to report a lower income, and hide large sums of money from their partner. Spouses trying to keep money from their soon-to-be ex have employed tactics like establishing dummy corporations, creating debt to hide income, and padding their payroll. These strategies are not easily picked up on by an average person, or even by a divorce attorney.

A forensic accountant can help paint a realistic picture of total assets. It is no surprise that the super rich are turning to these accountants more and more for help, as leaving large sums of money up to chance is never a good strategy. In cases of high net worth divorces, having a team of professionals may be necessary. A forensic accountant is likely one of them.

If you are considering divorce, or are going through a divorce and need help, a qualified Naperville family law attorney is here to help. Contact the Pesce Law Group today at 630-352-2240 to learn more today.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/russalanprince/2015/09/22/when-the-wealthy-divorce-they-regularly-engage-forensic-accountants/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jefflanders/2014/09/04/why-a-forensic-accountant-belongs-on-your-divorce-team/

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