It’s a common saying among data scientists: “garbage in, garbage out.” In other words, bad inputs lead to bad conclusions. It’s no different in business valuation, where an analyst synthesizes many data inputs to arrive at a single estimate of value. Bad data inputs lead to unreliable conclusions, which can be detrimental for the business owner, especially in litigation. Sometimes, the bad data comes from the business owner. Attorneys who hire valuation analysts for their cases should know the pitfalls of relying on client-provided data. Let’s look at some examples of mistakes valuation analysts have made in over-relying on client-provided data.
As a CPA, ABV and CVA, my credentials are a source of pride for me. Most people recognize the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential. However, very few people recognize other credentials in the accounting and forensic accounting field.
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Determining a couple’s income is one of the most critical financial issues in a divorce case. Reviewing the couple’s Form 1040, to start, can help paint a picture of their financial position and lifestyle. Divorce attorneys who know where to look for key information on tax returns can gain an edge over their opponents. Everyone is required to disclose certain information in their tax returns, including total income, wages and alimony received. These numbers can serve as compelling evidence when making a case for identifying and dividing marital assets, proving the existence of hidden assets and determining income for support purposes. Let’s consider what an individual’s personal tax return can reveal, and where to look.
Divorce cases where one party owns a closely-held business can create complications in the valuation and division of the marital estate. One of the many questions commonly encountered in Virginia divorce cases involving a closely-held business is, How is an increase in a marital business’s value from the date of separation to trial treated? Frequently, the time between date of separation and trial is more than a year, and sometimes it’s several years. It’s possible that during this time many factors, from changes in business operations to industry changes, could cause the value of the business to increase. Let’s consider how this increase in business value may be treated in Virginia divorce cases.
Barbara Chalmers, 74, pleaded guilty in December 2022 to an embezzlement scheme of at least $29 million over the past decade. Ms. Chalmers was the bookkeeper for a charitable foundation and multiple companies run by the family of Jim Collins, a prominent Dallas businessman and former congressman. The family operates Collins American Capital Corp., International Family Investors LTD and the James M. Collins Foundation. Let’s look at how she did it and the red flags that were missed along the way.
The 2000 Grunfeld v. Grunfeld divorce case out of New York is very instructive and packed with valuation insights. Let’s dig into the case, which considers the valuation of a partner’s interest in his law firm, his law license, the potential for double counting of income in determining both spousal support and equitable distribution, and other nuggets.