Guest Blog: A Conversation with Jason Buhlinger, CPA, CFE, CVA
Sometimes during the divorce process, couples have nuanced issues that require expertise beyond my scope. To help them, I have a team of trusted colleagues who I rely on to guide clients through financial or emotional struggles. During this blog series, I have asked members of my team to come up with some important tips to help divorcing couples during the process.
I started my series with Jason Buhlinger, a CPA, CFE, and CVA from Brown Smith Wallace, an accounting firm here in St. Louis, MO. Jason specializes in fraud and forensic accounting and had some excellent tips for couples going through divorce!
“Going through a divorce is a stressful, emotional process. As an independent financial analyst that is called upon to value privately held-business interests, I am often involved in the divorce process. From that vantage point, I’m able to see many of the mistakes couples make from a financial standpoint when going through a divorce. If you’re contemplating divorce, or are currently in the midst of one, here are some tips to make the separation of your financial assets much more efficient.
Tip 1: Be Prepared and Get Your Books in Order. It’s extremely important to have your financial house in order when sitting down with your attorney and/or a financial analyst. Many times, I see clients that come in with either incomplete documentation or an incomplete list of assets, or both. Having a set of organized, complete financial records, including all necessary bank statements, tax returns, brokerage account statements, titles, deeds, and other records, will expedite the process for your attorney and your financial analyst. Further, if you’re a business owner, timely, accurate, accrual basis financial statements are just as important to the process.
Tip 2: Try to Remove the Emotion When Splitting Up Assets. Removing the emotion when divvying up assets is an extremely important thing to keep in mind. It’s very easy for me to say as I sit here and write this, but if you can remove yourself from the emotion when splitting up assets, the process will be much more efficient. It doesn’t make sense to spend $2,500 in professional fees arguing over an asset that’s worth $1,000. The more you can remove emotion, and look at the situation through a rational lens, the more assets you will have remaining on both sides after the divorce is finalized.
While the tips above are not guaranteed to spell success in a divorce proceeding, they certainly won’t hurt and have the ability to make things more efficient – saving you both time and money.”