A high asset divorce, also known as a high net worth divorce, involves the dissolution of a marriage with complex high value assets such as investments, a family business, or passive income. Just as in a standard divorce, the spouses should draft a marital settlement agreement (MSA). Yet in a high asset divorce, the MSA should address the unique nature of their high value property and debts attached to it. The MSA should take the particularities of the spouses’ contributions and needs into account.
Like in a standard online divorce, the spouses should discuss what is marital property, or property acquired during the marriage, like a house they buy together. They should also discuss separate property, property they inherited at any point or acquired before the marriage began.
A person should start the conversation about property division with their Birmingham divorce attorney by reviewing:
- what personal or real property is most valuable. Items should include primary residences, vacation homes, out of state real property, boats, and vehicles.
- loans or mortgages regarding personal property, real property, and the family business. Whose name/s are the loans in, when did one or both spouses enter into them, who are other people that might be liable for the debt, and what are unique conditions for the loans?
- inheritances, who has them, when did they receive them, and what are they being used to fund? Such as is a spouse using their inheritance to fund necessary purchases for the family business.
- bank accounts. Where are they, what are they being used for, and who has access to them.
- if there are children, what bank accounts or other assets are set up for them, including college savings plans and investment accounts. Who set up these accounts and with what money? Who has access to the accounts? It is a good idea to ensure a spouse with sole control over the accounts will not empty or close the account/s and use the money for themselves. The spouses can write an agreement regarding children’s assets into the MSA.
- prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and conditions surrounding their creation. Was a spouse pressured to sign a prenup or postnup? Why?
- the nature and plan for the family business, including a plan to dissolve and sell the assets of the business.
- health savings accounts and what monies went into them.
- how property division will affect the spouses’ taxes after the divorce. A person should consult their accountant about effective tax strategies for the next tax year to prepare for higher taxes.
- wills and trusts that the spouses formed before contemplating a divorce. The spouses’ thoughts on how they want to alter these documents now.
- insurance benefits, including life insurance policies. How do the spouses plan to alter these documents after the divorce? They may choose to remove or change beneficiaries.
- stocks, including restricted stock for executives, founders, and early employees
- 401(k)s, IRAs, pension, and retirement accounts
- intellectual property
- horses and other livestock
A person can help their cheap divorce attorney by gathering documents relating to the assets and debts, including:
- documents regarding stock options
- documents, including receipts and email communications, that show how spouses put time, work, and money into shared property or a family business.
- Information about intellectual property and trade secrets to which both spouses own rights. Also documents that show they formed agreements and protected these rights, such as with a patent, copyright, or trademark.
- information about safe deposit boxes where personal property such as jewelry is kept.
- information about the care and keeping of valuable animals like horses.
A divorce attorney in Anniston may consult or hire a forensic accountant, property evaluation expert, regular accountant, or investment counselor to assist them with the MSA and understand their client’s obligations. The costs for such experts can add up. A person should track the expenses for a high asset divorce to make sure that the work put into the case is saving instead of costing them money.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!