Families that count businesses, investments, estate plans, and maybe even bitcoin or artwork face serious challenges when dividing marital assets. Each spouse must get an accurate list of the assets. Considering there may be thousands or millions of dollars at stake, it is essential to evaluate each asset individually to ensure that the assets are appropriately valued and retain that value despite the marriage’s dissolution. Below are some effective strategies to minimize unnecessary expenses and determine a fair and equitable split of marital assets during the divorce.
Get accurate appraisals
While cash is easy enough to divide up, many significant assets must get appraised because it is unrealistic to split them in half. These include businesses, real estate, artwork and collectibles. Each side often values the assets and rarely agrees on the value. Ideally, the two sides’ appraisals are close enough for negotiation. If not, they can find a neutral appraiser that they agree to trust, or they may choose to litigate.
Timing is everything
Most major assets fluctuate in value. Examples include:
- Stocks going up or down
- The closing sale price of a similar home in the neighborhood
- Seasonal ebbs and flows of a business’s sales numbers
- Potential business deals in the works at the time of the divorce
It is essential to take all the above into account when assigning value. Valuing a fluctuating asset may consider an average over a year or period. It may be necessary to have business valuation experts review all available information and provide analysis.
Seek hidden assets and finds
Those with complex investment portfolios may be tempted to hide money, defer payments or bonuses, or employ safety deposit boxes, secret bank accounts or cryptocurrency. If the other spouse’s numbers do not add up or they are not forthright with financial information, forensic accountants can track down hidden funds or assets that a spouse tries to hide.
High-asset divorces require scrutiny
With so much value riding on the fair division of assets, spouses need to work with an attorney with experience handling high-asset divorces. They can go through the portfolio, and identify entries that need further investigation, perhaps by an expert witness. Even when the divorce seems on track to be a fair and equitable one, they can offer creative solutions and strategies for effectively structuring the divorce based on the couple’s unique financial situation.