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Hidden assets and offshore accounts: issues in high value divorce

A recent article in the New York Times examines the case of Sarah Pursglove, whose impending divorce led to the discovery of a web of businesses, overseas accounts and unreported earnings that her husband had used to conceal his personal fortune.

The article reveals the lengths to which Pursglove and her attorney, Jeffery Fisher, were required to go in order to uncover these hidden assets. The division and distribution of assets at the end of any marriage can be an exceedingly complex process. Pursglove's story, however, highlights the value and necessity of a tenacious and experienced attorney when facing a high-value divorce.

While you may think that you know about all of your spouse's assets, there are numerous ways in which these assets can be concealed. Overseas bank accounts are one of the most common ways of disguising a person's true net worth, as well as a frequently-used method to avoid taxation on personal wealth. Similarly, investments and real estate purchases can be spread between various accounts and properties, making asset discovery and valuation more difficult.

More insidious methods of hiding assets include the outright non-disclosure of trusts and retirement accounts, the use of false documentation, the illegal gifting or loaning of assets and the use of business operations to hide personal income.

Though these methods make the accurate and fair valuation of assets highly complex, a skilled attorney with experience in high-asset divorces will have the resources to investigate and discover hidden assets and under-reported income. Working with forensic accountants and tax specialists can help your lawyer to produce an accurate valuation of your partner's assets and ensure that they are taken into consideration during divorce proceedings.

High-asset divorces present complex problems. Those concerned about receiving a fair settlement should contact an experienced, assertive divorce attorney as soon as possible in order to ensure that all assets are taken into consideration during the process.

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