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5 reasons you might want a forensic accountant

It’s normal for people headed toward divorce to start looking for ways to protect their own interests. If you see your spouse start to act strange about money as you near the end of your marriage, you might want to think about working with a forensic accountant.

Forensic accountants excel at tracing property and sniffing out inconsistencies in financial reports. They’re often brought into divorces—especially high-asset divorces—to make sure both sides have a fair and complete assessment of the larger financial picture.

How could a forensic accountant help you?

A forensic accountant might help you uncover any funds your spouse is trying to hide. However, that’s not all a forensic accountant can do. Forensic accountants can also investigate complex asset portfolios or the value of a business. Some of the most common ways forensic accountants help prepare for divorce include:

  • Uncovering hidden assets: As people realize they’re headed to divorce, they might try to disguise their assets so that they can hold onto more of them. Some people will act poorer and claim they have more debt than they revealed earlier. They might overpay their taxes to claim returns later, transfer funds to dummy accounts, or hide their assets in secret purchases.
  • Determine the value of a business: Even if your spouse started the business before your marriage and you never worked in it, you are likely entitled to a part of its value. A forensic accountant can evaluate the worth of the business and state how much should be considered marital property and how much should be considered separate.
  • Determine the values of complex assets: If a couple owns stock portfolios with semi-vested and vested stock—awarded both before and during the marriage—it can be difficult to understand how much of the larger portfolio is marital and how much is separate.
  • Trace the status of other property: Houses, vehicles, artwork and other large gifts might be marital or separate property. Couples might forget or contest when they got the property. Forensic accountants may help uncover the truth.
  • Testify in court: A forensic accountant can testify in court. The accountant should offer an unbiased, factual assessment of each party’s worth, as well as the value of the property in dispute.

Using the facts to support your case

Most of the time you hear about forensic accountants taking part in divorce hearings, you hear about the work they do to find hidden assets, but higher earning spouses might also hire accountants to protect their assets. Especially when the divorce involves many complex assets, a forensic accountant could help you present a clear picture of their worth and origin, so you can reach as fair an outcome as possible.

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