A high net worth divorce has traditionally been defined as a divorce involving more than one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) in net liquid assets. The recent divorce case involving Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO, and his wife MacKenzie shows how extensive the division of property, stocks, and other assets can be.
Divorce is not an easy process and it only gets more complicated for high net worth individuals. With more at stake, there are more issues to contest and energy spent on protecting your best interests.
If you’re wondering what makes high net worth divorce stand out from a typical divorce, below are some typical characteristics:
- It involves the detailing of complex and high value assets. High net worth couples typically own small businesses, professional firms, real estate holdings, and/or investment portfolios. Planning for a high net worth divorce entails detailed financial and accounting work, and a full and accurate inventory of what you and your spouse own. You need to gather all information relating to the assets, liabilities, and income of the estate. There is always a chance your spouse may be hiding extra assets or understating the value of items like artwork or business property.
- Separate property may not be divided during divorce. Assets owned, inherited, or received as a gift before marriage typically are not divided during a divorce, except for the increase in value of such assets during the marriage. You need an accurate history of separate property to keep it from being categorized as shared.
- It may include using experts to value assets. Your property must be accurately valued for you both to agree that a settlement is fair. Financial experts often need to be brought in to value the estate accurately. If necessary, a forensic accountant can help locate all relevant assets for appraisement. An appraiser assesses values for things like real estate, jewelry, art, antiques and so forth. Experts can help determine an accurate value of your estate.
- There are new tax liabilities and consequences. The settlement process may involve new financial transactions with notable tax consequences. High net worth divorces involve property transfers, asset liquidation, and possibly alimony, which can change your tax liabilities. Property or businesses in other states and countries also pose new legal and financial challenges in a divorce settlement.
- The length of your marriage makes a difference in how assets are divided. In a divorce, the law indicates that assets shall be divided in a fair and equitable manner. The length of your marriage is a factor to be considered in the division.
There is much to consider during a high net worth divorce, so you need to have a solid, experienced divorce attorney at your side to guide you. You can rely on our lawyers’ knowledge and reputation to secure the resolution of your high net worth divorce. Contact us online or by calling 412-261-4040.