You hate numbers. I love them.
What were you in college? An English major? A Sociology major?
Or perhaps an Applied Mathematics major?
Yeah right. I’m laughing, too!
As a family-law attorney, you’re great at—and passionate about—what you do. Ditto for me. I’m a numbers nerd. Specifically, I’m a CPA, a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional.
And with all these extra letters after my name, not only can I help you help your clients; I can also alleviate the stress that invariably accompanies the onslaught of financial and tax documents that your clients dump on your desk.
The devil’s in the details
Most attorneys that I know are quite good when it comes to understanding the big picture of finances that pertains to divorce: There are the assets, such as the house. The bank account. The business. The investments. The retirement accounts.
And there are the debts. Like the mortgage. The car loans. The student loans. And so on.
How do you get this info? From the client’s AFI, of course. It’s the first thing you ask her to complete.
But from that very minute, things get tricky.
There’s a huge difference between “big picture” and “CPA-level details.” The devil lies in the latter.
First off, you truly can’t trust that stressed-out divorcing woman to properly populate the AFI. She doesn’t know where she’ll be living, post-divorce. She likely doesn’t know all of the assets and expenses today, let alone in the future.
So you’re already trying to build a case upon a shaky foundation.
And then there’s the arcane stuff.
Here are some common mistakes I see all the time:
- Annualized income errors. If someone gets paid bi-weekly, you multiply that paycheck by 26 to get the annual income. But if it’s bi-monthly, you multiply by 24. Many people assume they’re the same. They’re not.
- IRA vs. 401(k). They look the same. But they’re not. There are subtle differences between the two which can amount to big differences not only at settlement time, but in the future for your client.
- Non-vanilla investments. You can look up a stock price online. But what about interest in an oil-and-gas partnership? What about stock options? What about a rental property or private REIT? They’re not publicly traded, so how do you valuate—let alone split—them?
- SERP. That stands for “Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan.” Guess what? If the husband’s statement for that arrives by email vs postal mail, there’s a good chance that the wife never even sees it.
- Constructive trusts. These are structured to prevent insider trading for heavily-vested executives. But when those executives divorce, the valuation and tax implications get really complex. Don’t go there on your own.
Plain and simple
All this stuff is complicated, I can’t sugar-coat it. But I can make it easier for you. That’s my job.
It’s a ton of work on my end, but I can crunch all of these numbers, and run sophisticated projections in my esoteric software, and print it all out on a single page that shows you all the values of all the stuff, and a proposed equitable split based thereon. Voilà. You’ve got what you need.
Let me help you help your clients.
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