The decision to end a marriage can be a difficult one to make. In addition to the emotions involved in a divorce, spouses must also contend with practical questions that can have a significant bearing on their financial future, including the division of assets such as real estate and retirement funds. This becomes particularly complicated in cases where there are sizable assets involved.
Outlined below are some proactive steps for preparing for a high asset divorce:
Gather The Relevant Financial Information
The first step in preparing for a high asset divorce is gathering documents such as bank account statements, tax records, mortgage information for all of the properties you own, recent W2s and statements from 401K, retirement and investment accounts. Those who own a business will need to collect those financial records as well. It is also useful to make a list of other assets, such as vehicles, artwork, boats, valuable collections and other expensive belongings.
Be sure to organize this information in such a way that it is easy for you and your attorney to find information as needed. This does not have to be complex; you can use physical folders for physical documents and organize digital files using folders on flash drives. You should also make a list of all your logins and passwords.
Hire An Attorney
Having a good family law attorney on your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. It is important to hire an attorney who has experience specifically in managing high asset divorces, as they will be able to ensure you include all assets and accounts.
Your family law attorney can also help you determine your property, which is considered marital property and will be distributed equitably between you and your former spouse. That which is considered separate property belongs to you.
Have Your Home And Business Evaluated
When the time comes to divide assets, the current value of your marital residence, vacation homes and business will figure into the proceedings. Therefore, it is essential to have a professional evaluation of these assets to determine their actual value. In some cases, it may be possible to buy your spouse out of their rightful share of a family home or business if you wish to keep it, but an accurate and recent valuation will be needed.
Be Forthcoming When Listing Assets
Although it may be tempting to hide or downplay your assets, there is a good chance this will negatively impact your outcome. During a divorce, your spouse or their attorney may discover these assets and the court could force you to split them.
Some divorcing spouses may hire financial professionals, such as forensic accountants, to locate hidden assets; the courts do not look favorably on any individuals who try to hide assets. Be sure to list everything honestly and truthfully, and let your divorce attorney work to protect them in your divorce.
Use Social Media Carefully
It is best to avoid posting on social media during your divorce as anything you say could be used by your spouse or their attorney against you in the proceedings. Negatively referencing your spouse on social media is never a good idea.
Even if your account is private, it is still possible that someone who supports your soon-to-be former spouse will be able to access it and pass along information that can help their case and work against you.
In addition to avoiding commenting on your relationship, you should avoid posting photos that show you on expensive vacations or showing off expensive new purchases.
Understand The Tax Implications
High-asset divorces may involve liquidating assets or selling joint properties. This may result in significant capital gains, which could have a big impact on your taxes. Be sure that you understand the potential ramifications of dividing your assets and work with family law attorneys who can provide a tax accountant to ensure all possible implications are considered.
Keep It Private
Many people who are going through a high-asset divorce wish to keep the details private. Talk to your attorney about the possibility of filing for a sealed divorce to protect your privacy. You might also consider divorce mediation with both attorneys present, which can keep the divorce out of public records.
Although you may be eager to complete the divorce process, keep in mind that high-asset divorces often takes longer than typical divorces due to the amount of property and assets involved which need to be properly valued. Be patient and prepare to let the professionals complete each step; rushing through the divorce could result in the loss of assets.
Request A Consultation With The Maryland Divorce Attorneys
A high asset divorce can be complex and require a special level of representation. At SIEGELLAW, our family law attorneys have the resources and experience necessary to protect your assets and work toward your goals in your divorce. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.