The tax impact of assets is not equal. Some assets bring bigger tax hits than other assets. It can be important to determine the tax basis in property, estimate when it will be liquidated, and carefully consider the overall tax implication of receiving an asset.
Not all assets produce the same return. At one time, you could count on at least 12% appreciation on real estate in King County – not any longer.
Some assets are easy to value and some are difficult. It can be critical that the right expert be retained to produce convincing opinions about values. You want the right experts on your side and that means starting with the right attorney.
Some spouses are dishonest. Some spouses do not put all required information into tax returns. Some spouses get scared and think they can outsmart or outrun the arm of the law. In such situations, it can be important to talk to a lawyer before necessarily letting your spouse know you are thinking about divorce. In such circumstances, you should consider court orders that secure critical information without notice to your spouse.
Bad Decisions About Investments
Wrong doing is often not relevant but bad investment decisions and other fiscal improvidences, in the right circumstances, may be considered by a court.
Separate and Community Assets
Many times clients assume that just because both names are on an account, or because Washington is a community property state, that everything is community. Often careful and detailed tracing will reveal winning evidence that clearly establishes an asset as separate property.
Sloppy Estate Planning
Sometimes people sign community property agreements that have unfortunate consequences at the time of divorce. Sometimes a spouse assumes an asset is separate property because it was purchased prior to marriage or was a gift from their family but an agreement with their spouse can nullify those facts and make the asset community property. It may still be important in such cases to establish the source of the property because the court can still consider whether the property was once separate property and you can argue that the court should give you more community property to make up for the mistakenly converted separate property.
A business is not just its equipment and accounts receivables. Often businesses and professionals such as doctors, lawyers, or dentists have valuable goodwill or the expectation of repeat business. Consultation with experts who calculate goodwill is critical to obtaining the proper information so the full value of the business, including goodwill, is fully measured.
Long Term Marriages
There is fairly new and strong authority that spouses who have been married for 25 years or more, should be placed in a position to have approximately the same financial future. Glenn recommends the use of Certified Divorce Financial Analysts in such situations to fully illustrate and consider the ramifications of the overall financial package.
Prenuptial agreements must be fair to be enforced. Establishing whether an agreement is fair or not fair often requires considering many of the complicating factors mentioned in this section in order to build thorough and persuasive arguments.
Countless misperceptions and peculiar assumptions surround property issues. Very often what you assume is true, is not anywhere near the truth. It requires familiarity with the nuances of the law and a tenacious character to search out obscure facts and to make sure important property is not missed. It takes experience and careful organization to: a) efficiently find all property b) properly determine its character c) accurately value the asset d) thoroughly consider the tax consequences and e) to properly weigh the impact of the asset in the overall financial package. Glenn has that kind of experience.
Some pensions are not what they appear. The division of some pensions require valuation of the pension into current dollars and then special language and court orders to divide the pension.
There are many wrinkles to stock options. Stock options require careful fact gathering, application of complex case law to the facts, and sometimes the hiring of the correct expert to determine values.
Art, Collections, Antiques, Tools, Etc.
Some personal property has surprising high values that should not be missed.