Category Archives: High Asset Divorce

Amazon CEO Shows Divorce Can Be Amicable Despite Valuable AssetsAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently announced the terms of his divorce from his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie. The divorce is expected to be the most valuable in history because Bezos’s net worth of more than $110 billion makes him the richest man in the world. As part of the divorce:

  • Jeff Bezos will keep 75 percent of the couple’s stock in Amazon and voting control for all of their stock;
  • MacKenzie Bezos’s share will be about four percent of Amazon’s total stock, valued at $35 billion; and
  • Jeff Bezos will receive all of the couple’s interest in the Washington Post and Blue Origin.

As a result of the divorce, MacKenzie Bezos will be the third-richest woman in the world. As astounding as the details of the agreement are, it may be just as impressive that the divorce has been amicable. The couple reached a quick agreement and has complimented each other publicly throughout the process. You could argue that it is easy to cooperate when both spouses are guaranteed to still be amongst the richest people in the world. However, a high asset divorce can just as easily create conflict between the spouses.

The Stakes

You likely worked hard to accumulate the wealth and assets that you share with your spouse. It is natural to want to keep as many of those assets as possible. A divorce is meant to provide financial stability to both spouses. This may mean:

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How to Find and Identify Hidden Assets During Property DivisionEach side during a divorce is responsible for researching their various marital assets to ensure that there is an equitable division of property. However, your spouse may try to gain an advantage by hiding assets from you. Even if the hidden assets are not marital property, they are part of your spouse’s individual wealth after your divorce. A divorce court may award you additional marital properties or greater spousal maintenance if your spouse has significant individual assets. Finding hidden assets may take more effort than the normal discovery process in a divorce.

Where to Look

Suspecting that your spouse has hidden assets does not mean that you know what they are or where they have been hidden. Fortunately, there should be financial records of the purchase or movement of substantial assets. There are several sources that may lead you to hidden assets:

  1. Tax Returns: Your spouse’s federal and state income tax returns must report all of his or her sources of income, including interest from investments and withdrawals from trusts. Looking at the tax deductions may uncover hidden properties that your spouse owns;
  2. Loan Applications: When applying for a loan, your spouse must report all of his or her income, assets, debts, and expenses;
  3. Account History: You can ask for records of all activity from financial accounts that you own jointly with your spouse or that your spouse owns individually; and
  4. Hidden Accounts: You can subpoena a financial institution where you suspect that your spouse has an account, forcing the institution to turn over any records related to your spouse’s account.

When you receive these records, you are looking for activity involving money or assets for which you cannot identify the source.

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Four Reasons You May Need a Forensic Accountant for Your DivorceForensic accountants investigate personal and business financial records and analyze the information that they find. Divorce attorneys often work with forensic accountants in complex and contested cases. You may question whether you need the added expense of a forensic accountant for your divorce, but there are several reasons why hiring one is vital when going through a high-asset divorce:

  1. Your Marital Properties Are Numerous and Diverse: Are you confident that you could name all of your marital assets if someone asked you to? Your spouse may have luxury items, properties, business interests and benefits accounts, some of which you have never seen. Forensic accountants know which properties are common in a high-asset divorce and how to find them.
  2. Differentiating Between Marital and Non-Marital Properties Is Complicated: Claiming that properties are non-marital allows your spouse to exclude them from the division of property. However, a property that only your spouse uses is still a marital property if he or she used marital money to purchase or maintain it. Forensic accountants can track how your spouse paid for a property that he or she claims is non-marital. If it is marital property, then your spouse must compensate you if he or she wants to keep it. 
  3. Expensive Assets Need Accurate Valuation: Your spouse may undervalue his or her income, business, and personal properties in order to gain an advantage in the division of property. You are allowing your spouse to receive more marital property value than you realize without being compensated in return. Misreporting his or her income could also diminish what you receive in child support or spousal maintenance. You need a forensic accountant to independently assess the value of your marital assets.
  4. Your Spouse May Be Hiding Assets: You may have allowed your spouse to handle all of your financial decisions and recordkeeping during your marriage. Your spouse can take advantage of his or her superior knowledge by hiding assets during the division of property. This could include creating secret accounts, misreporting income, or using deceptive practices to artificially decrease the value of his or her business. Forensic accountants know all of these tricks and can identify suspicious information in your spouse’s records.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Attorney

A knowledgeable forensic accountant may ultimately save you money on your divorce by preventing your spouse from taking advantage of you. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can recommend a forensic accountant and work with him or her on your case. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Should You Keep or Sell Your Vacation Home During Divorce?Owning a second home can complicate your high asset divorce. If you want to keep the vacation home for yourself, you will need to give up other valuable marital properties in return. Neither of you may want the property because you cannot foresee getting the same use and enjoyment out of it after you are divorced. Some divorcing couples choose to sell their vacation homes and divide the proceeds. You must weigh the positives and negatives when deciding whether to keep or sell a second home.

Keeping the Home

The financial and emotional value in owning a vacation home may be greater than what you could actually receive in a sale. By keeping the home, you have the option of sharing use of it with your former spouse or renting it to other vacationers. Your enjoyment from the home is also a valid reason to keep it. However, you should consider the practical cost of owning the home:

  • Can you afford the continued upkeep of the home, including months when it is unoccupied?;
  • Can you afford to pay property taxes on more than one home?
  • Will you be making mortgage payments on two homes?;
  • If sharing ownership, will you be able to work out a shared schedule with your former spouse?; and
  • Will you use the home enough for it to be worth keeping?

Selling the Home

The money you receive from selling your vacation home can compensate both of you for your lost assets and income after your divorce. You will save money on property upkeep and taxes, as well as avoid the headache of figuring out who will keep the home and which other properties you should exchange for it. However, you should not rush to sell your home without considering the consequences:

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Obtaining Asset Value Through a Divorce SaleSome marital properties from a divorce are more valuable to you if you sell them instead of deciding which one of you gets to keep them. In a divorce sale or auction, you can convert properties that neither of you wants into money, which you split as part of your division of property. You do not have to organize your divorce sale together with your spouse, but he or she must approve the sale of any marital properties. You must plan ahead for your divorce sale to ensure that you will receive full value for your properties.

Advantages

You will have different needs as a single adult than when you were married. Some properties will be impractical to keep as part of your new lifestyle. For other properties, their monetary value is more useful than the enjoyment you get from them. Selling these properties may be to your advantage because:

  • Unlike the property itself, you can equitably divide the money from selling the property;
  • You may need the money to support yourself after your divorce;
  • Money from a divorce sale can help pay off marital debts; and
  • You can save on the cost of keeping and maintaining the property.

A Successful Sale

Once you have identified marital properties that you want to sell, you must research and plan before selling the items. You can cheat yourself and your spouse by selling these properties for less than they are worth. Here are three keys to a successful divorce sale:

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Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174

 630-584-4800

 1770 Park Street, Suite 205
Naperville IL 60563

 630-364-4046

 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187

 630-407-1777

Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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