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The wealthy depend on forensic accountants during divorce

In the business world, the wealthy have long counted on forensic accountants to sort out the shady accounting practices of their business partners. Now, the affluent are also increasingly turning to forensic accountants to help them deal with another potentially thorny issue: divorce. Financial experts say the trend is expected to grow in Alaska and around the world.

Ultra-wealthy couples often have a complex mix of marital assets, which may include investment portfolios, various businesses, trusts, partnerships, real estate, collectibles and more. They may also have complicated retirement plans, deferred compensation arrangements and life insurance policies. Such assets can be very difficult for a divorce lawyer to untangle, so a qualified forensic accountant is commonly consulted to perform a detailed valuation of all marital assets.

Forensic accountants can be particularly useful when one divorcing spouse tries to play dirty and hide their assets from the court. For example, private business owners may attempt to conceal assets by shielding them behind dummy or shell corporations. They may also "cook the books" or pad their employee payroll to create fake business losses. However, an expert accountant can uncover a spouse's true income by carefully examining bank accounts, business records, investment portfolios and tax returns.

A significant amount of money is typically at stake during a high-asset divorce. An Alaska resident who is facing a divorce that includes complex asset division may benefit by retaining an attorney. Legal counsel could review the details of the case to determine whether a forensic accountant should be consulted. Once all marital assets are accounted for, the attorney could assist in negotiating a settlement agreement that provides for an equitable division.

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