A forensic lifestyle analysis covers money coming in and going out. The income and expenses. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to watch my video about the use of a lifestyle analysis.
But what about hiding assets? How does someone do that? Answer this question: do you have the actual statements from the banks and investment companies or do you have some numbers written on a piece of paper?
If you can’t retrieve the original statements, contact your bank and investment company to obtain duplicates. Here’s why. If you’re worried about hidden assets, the first place to look is the most obvious: the investment accounts. Have there been any big, unexplained withdrawals from the accounts? Any big changes in values that don’t correspond with the market movements? How will you know if you don’t have all the statements?
Has there been any large personal gifts or loans? For example, has one spouse gifted large sums of money to their children, parents, or siblings? Are they calling this a loan? Is there any history of similar gifts or loans during the marriage? Or is this a sudden change?
What about tax returns? Have you requested the copies that were filed with the IRS (you can do that) or are you accepting whatever copies your spouse provided?
Is there a family business? Has your spouse’s income been falling while the business profits are rising?
Has there been an evaluation of the business’s expenses? Should you hire an expert to go through the company’s records and see if there has been any padding of expenses? Were bonuses paid to others but not to your spouse? Both of those could be ways to artificially reduce a person’s income.
Have you considered hiring a professional business valuator to provide a detailed explanation on the actual value of the business?
At Feldmeyer Financial Group, we follow the old saying: where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If something doesn’t look or sound right, it probably isn’t.
If you’re concerned about the possibility that your spouse may be hiding assets, talk to us. We know what questions to ask, and where to look for hidden assets. Don’t sign an agreement you may later regret because you were missing crucial financial information. Talk to us first.
Ben Feldmeyer, CFP®, CDFA®, CLTC® is a Private Wealth Advisor and President of Feldmeyer Financial Group, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. For more information, please visit the Feldmeyer Financial Group Divorce Magazine online profile.
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