11th Nov 2014
Am I a High Net Worth Individual?
Although there is no precise definition of what constitutes a high net worth individual – HNWI, perhaps, the most commonly quoted figure is $1million in total assets. While this appears to be a lot of money, the reality is that many people who have worked for a considerable length of time, have acquired retirement, investment accounts as well as real property, fit into this category and therefore, need to understand that their divorce requires special attention. For the purpose of this blog, if you have complex assets like retirement plans, stock options, investment portfolios and trust accounts and rental properties, you are probably a HNWI.
What is Unique about a High Net Worth Divorce – HNWD?
At the core, every divorce involves 3 key factors: 1) dissolution of the marriage relationship, 2) if children are involved, child custody matters (conservatorship and possession and access), and, 3) division of property.
A HNWD also has these 3 key elements. The key difference between a HNWD and a regular divorce is that division of property in a HNWD is technically no different from a business divestiture. In other words, the care and due diligence involved in the dissolution or divestiture of a business entity applies to a high net worth divorce. Conversely, division of property in a regular divorce is not nearly as complex as what is involved in a HNWD.
How do we approach a HNWD?
Using our proprietary Structured Value Framework—our unique approach to developing legal solutions for our client, we begin by identifying and clarifying our clients objectives. We classify the objectives into tangible and intangible objectives. [Tangible objectives describes those objectives that we can quantify fairly easily whereas intangible objectives are more difficult to quantify and tend to be based more on sentiments]. The client objectives forms the basis for our overall approach.
Leveraging our firm’s in-house finance and accounting expertise, we engage in a thorough valuation of the community and separate estates. Valuation can be particularly tricky in estates that involve family businesses or professional corporations such as a doctor’s office or lawyer’s office. Analyzing and quantifying prenupitial or post-marital agreements, characterization of what property is community or separate are also areas that require careful attention.
Based on the client’s objectives including the need for privacy, expediency in finalizing the divorce, or desired outcome, we develop a number of strategies for the client. We literarily develop a financial model that incorporates scenario analysis and cost benefit analysis and allows our client to visualize the impact of different strategies and our assessment of the risks associated with each strategy.
Several cases require skilled and discrete alternative dispute resolution, others require aggressive litigation—whatever the case requires, we counsel our client to make ‘fact’ based decisions supported by our comprehensive and thorough analysis of the facts and law.
What additional resources are required in a HNWD?
Valuation experts are often required in a HNWD. At AnunobiLaw, we have in-house finance and accounting expertise and will typically conduct the initial valuation and analysis before engaging outside experts. This translates into additional value for our clients.
Private investigators may be needed to assist in gathering facts that may be relevant in the divorce proceeding or during negotiations.
Psychologists/Social Workers and Medical Experts may also be needed especially if children are involved.
The bottom line is that every case is unique..the facts of the case dictate the combination of additional expertise or resources that will be required to derive the optimal results for the client. Rest assured that we will do whatever the case requires.
What are my next steps?
Give us a call at (281) 954-5299, to schedule a confidential appointment or to find out more about our approach to HNWD. Upon signing up, you will receive the personal mobile phone number to our attorneys and we will begin working on your case immediately. We will be assessable to you for the duration of your case!