Professionals, Business Owners and Wealthy Couples

Image of well-to-do coupleWell-to-do couples that are not considered “high profile” to the general public may still be high profile in their own discrete business niche or network. Such couples may co-own a prosperous business, or one or both spouses are professionals such as doctors, lawyers, architects, or involved in a prosperous endeavor that impacts the lives of their important employees and customers. This high net worth demographic is just as passionate to keep their personal lives and finances private from curious employees, customers, partners, investors and the hungry financial media trolling for stories.


Sarah T. Schaffer counsels and represents clients in matters
pertaining to high net worth divorce including:

• Complex financial scenarios
• Business ownership by one or both parties
• Business valuation & division of business assets
• Real estate matters
• Pension and retirement valuations
• Division of pension and retirement accounts
• Division of stock options, restricted stock units, deferred compensation
• Discovering hidden assets
• Uncovering intentionally inflated liabilities
• Exploring and presenting tax consequences & tax saving options
• Prenuptial agreements

Should I Hire a Divorce Attorney if We Are in Basic Agreement?

If Considering Divorce and Your Situation Includes Any of the Following:

• A family-owned or closely held business
• A self-employed spouse making significant income
• Stock options or executive pay packages
• Multiple homes or real estate holdings
• A significant inheritance at some time by one or both spouses
• Assets such as art, coin / stamp collections, race cars, collectibles, memorabilia, etc.
• A prenuptial agreement

IRS Logo  IF YES TO ANY – Contact an experienced high net worth Divorce Attorney.

Why? – Because you have a lot to lose if your divorce settlement is improperly drafted. Often just the tax consequences of a poorly thought-out and drafted settlement agreement will often more than pay for attorney fees from your annual income tax, property tax, and capital gains tax savings that can –if not properly anticipated and addressed– can significantly drain away your take home income and diminish your overall net worth.

No “Do Overs” – It is virtually impossible to get the Family Law Courts, the State of California and the IRS to provide you an opportunity for a settlement agreement “do over”! Get it right the first time…

Sarah’s LL.M. in Taxation Often Benefit Her Clients

Ms. Schaffer’s clients are the beneficiaries of Sarah’s LL.M. in taxation as every financial aspect that is considered is carefully weighed for its current and long term tax consequences. In fact, the tax consequences (tax savings) can be structured to benefit the spouse with the greater income and simultaneously benefit the other spouse as well — such that both parties end up with an exceptional agreement that addresses the unique needs of each party going forward.


Problems With the Division of Marital Assets

Situations often arise wherein the actual value of an asset or the amount of assets is unknown. The owners and operators of businesses have the ability to divert money away from the business into private personal accounts, to friends, relatives or to use business funds to purchase high value items that can be liquidated later for cash. Executives often receive or have an agreement to receive future compensation, assets, or perks that are not evidenced on their past or current W-2 forms.

At the Law Offices of Sarah T. Schaffer, APC, we work with discrete investigators: Forensic Certified Public Accountants, Forensic Analysts, Appraisers, Business Valuation Experts, and Licensed Investigators to get an accurate picture of the assets of the couple to ensure that our client receives a fair and equitable division of the marital property.


High Net Worth Divorce Solutions

Property division involving high net worth marital estates are ripe with challenges in matters of property division, business ownership, and asset/liability division as a divorce settlement is hammered out. Certified Family Law Specialist, Sarah T. Schaffer, has extensive experience in working with complex property division, hidden asset discovery, and asset protection techniques that her clients appreciate. Ms. Schaffer’s clients include high income professionals, corporate executives, business owners, business managers, and stay-at-home parents.


DO YOU NEED PRIVACY?

Consider Mediation or Collaboration

Keep Your Private Details & Finances Private – Depending on your unique circumstances, our law firm may be able help you resolve complex issues of property division, spousal support, and child support without involving the court where your lives become part of the searchable public record. We can take advantage of mediation or collaboration where, if both spouses are willing to come to certain agreements in a private setting, the details can REMAIN private. This does not preclude litigating specific isolated issues in court if the parties are absolutely deadlocked.

Privacy of Intimate Personal Details & Confidential Financial Issues

Sarah T. Schaffer has the ability to promote and negotiate one or all of the various property division issues that will come together as a single overall settlement agreement that will be necessary to complete a lawful divorce. Many of the intimate personal details and confidential financial issues can be kept out of court (and the public record) if both parties are agreeable except for any singular issues that, because of impasse or deadlock, might be litigated in a court setting.


Must Our Property Division be Exactly 50:50 of Each Asset?

High net worth marital estates generally involve complex financial assets that must be divided. But must each and every asset be divided exactly in half? In the spirit of California law, yes, but in practicality, no. In most cases, with lots of assets, the various properties and assets that make up the entirety of the marital estate can be divided subjectively based on the desires of each spouse; divided in a manner that is “accepted and agreed” by each spouse to be a fair split taking into consideration each parties’ personal desires and circumstances.

Simple Example

Simple Example – The spouse who has been running the family business wants to continue doing so and wants the business operation to be his or her separate interest post divorce, while the other spouse is agreeable about the business because he or she is rewarded by taking, in exchange, sole possession of the primary marital residence and vacation home as equitable division of those specific assets.

The actual process of dividing complex and diverse assets requires properly evaluating each spouses’ assets (determining whether the property is marital or non-marital), all common assets, all liabilities, any spouses’ employee benefit and retirement plans, and uncovering any hidden assets or inflated liabilities (should one party be attempting to place his or her thumb on the scales of fairness) before drafting a workable settlement agreement that can be a win-win for each spouse.

Actual Agreements Are More Complex to Take Advantage of Significant Tax Savings

When dividing assets, unlike the simple example above, your settlement agreement will likely be structured to address the tax consequences that can make a significant monthly and annual difference resulting in a better, more abundant, financial picture for both spouses. Tax consequences might mean that the spouse earning the most money going forward will be allowed to take advantage of mortgage interest or avoid punitive capital gains. Similarly, while the lesser earning spouse, who will likely be receiving some spousal support, will have options they can choose in the design of the structure of the settlement agreement to take advantage of tax law for their circumstance and new life.


Negotiation or Litigation?

Whenever possible, the Law Offices of Sarah T. Schaffer, APC and its attorneys prefer to negotiate a fair and acceptable divorce settlement. Negotiating instead of litigating will better preserve the assets that are to be divided and awarded to each party. We encourage our clients to “pick their battles” if battles must be pursued at all. Litigating small, inconsequential issues can unnecessarily dilute the estate harming both parties. That said, we are experienced and skilled litigators who will stand up in court to protect our clients’ interests when necessary.


At the Law Offices of Sarah T. Schaffer, APC, we provide our clients expert legal services tailored to your individual needs. Call us to see if we are a fit for you or to schedule an appointment. Call (858) 509-7907.

Certified Family Law Specialist

Visit One of Sarah's Other Sites

SanDiegoMediation.comSarahSchaffer.com