What do I do for divorcing clients and their attorneys?
I do several things. First I gather financial data for the client, attorney and/or mediator – tax returns, investment statements, loans etc. From that information, I put together the client’s existing financial picture, including a balance sheet and an assessment of income and expenses. I collaborate with attorneys and other professionals to propose options to divide resources in ways that save money, minimize taxes and protect future investments.
How can I make the division better?
There are many ways to improve the process. Not every asset, investment or retirement plan needs to be ‘split down the middle’. There may be a more palatable way to divide the overall pie. In fact, there may be a way to divide assets that actually increases the pie’s overall size, which I believe is in both parties’ interest. This may include something like having high income investments retained by the spouse in a lower tax bracket.
During asset division negotiations, I also provide my clients with tips that ensure there are minimal additional legal costs and/or administrative hassles after the decree is finalized.
What is the goal of divorce financial planning and analysis?
Overlooking a financial issue can have long-term costs. Throughout my career as a CFP and a CDFA, I resolved numerous potentially costly mistakes contemplated by divorce and financial planning clients and their attorneys.
I provide attorneys and their clients with an initial data set from which decisions can be based. I create materials that support the clients negotiated position. In addition, an analysis of the final division can be used as the client’s basis for post-divorce financial planning.
What else should a prospective client know?
I always work with other professionals – attorneys, mediators, tax accountants, pensions fund administrators. While I may advise clients on what questions are important to ask these other professionals, I focus only on the financial issues. The client and the attorney decide on the division of assets while I provide options to make an informed decision. I do not give specific legal or tax advice.
I also want prospective clients to know that I continue to work with many of my clients after the final decree is filed. I have a post-divorce checklist that helps clients create a new financial plan, move and rationalize investments, change beneficiaries, and execute new insurance and wills. In fact I’ve worked with clients who hire me only after their decree is final.
What does this cost?
I charge hourly or negotiate a flat fee for the analysis. My hourly rate is generally much less than an attorney’s rate.
My objective is to earn my fee through multi-year financial efficiencies’ generated though the financial options I provide. Depending on the decisions made in the final decree, I hope to be able to save the clients more than they pay me.
How do clients hire me?
Clients are referred by their attorney for consultation. However, other clients found me through existing clients, other professionals or my website. I can be hired by the client’s attorney and paid by the client or simply paid by the client directly.
How can a prospective client get in contact with me for a consultation?
Attorneys or their clients can call me at my office at (512) 774-5340. My client services specialist will arrange an initial consultation at no cost.