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Bruce Bryen is a certified public accountant with over 45 years of experience and is a part of Baratz & Associates CPAs. He specializes in deferred compensation, such as retirement planning design; income and estate tax planning; determination of the proper organizational business structure; asset protection and structuring loan packages for presentation to financial institutions. He is experienced in providing litigation support services to dentists with Valuation and Expert Witness testimony in matrimonial and partnership dispute cases. He is also a financial writer for several dental journals. You may contact him at 609-502-0691 or at Bryenb@baratzcpa.com, or through www.Bryen-BryenLLP.com.
Emotions can run high during a divorce, but working with the right professionals can help to streamline the process.
During divorce proceedings, there can be many emotional moments for the dentist. From getting served with papers for probably the first time in his or her career to communicating with professionals and having problems with getting calls returned, this may be one of the few circumstances in his or her career that the dentist is not in control of the outcome.
Unlike financial, clinical and employee situations, the dentist is now at the mercy - from a timing perspective - of his or her own advisers and those offering advice to the ex-spouse. If the experts are slow in communicating, there is certainly going to be tremendous angst in waiting for an outcome to a proposal or opportunity to discuss settlement ideas. The mediation portion of a proceeding is one of the best ways to reach closure based on the money and effort being expended. One of the few ways to accomplish this is to get the professional advisers to coordinate things so that a conference can be held. Even if no agreement is reached, ideas will be exchanged so that each party has a better understanding of the status of the opinions.
There are many areas to learn about before retaining experts who will shape the next few years of the dentist’s financial life. Read on to find out more about who to retain for this matter.
Who should be hired and who should take the lead?
It is rare for an attorney to have much experience in dealing with those in the dental world. Dentists seem to be the last bastion of advisers to have been sued. When that suit does occur, it is typically from a former partner, employee or spouse and not from a patient. Finding the right attorney to represent the dentist is an important step in making sure that the legal adviser is ready for what to expect from the dentist who rarely is a litigant.
From an experience perspective, the dental CPA would be the one offering the most insight into the dentist’s financial situation from an income standpoint as well as from a valuation approach to the actual value of the dental practice. The importance of the communication between the attorney and the dental CPA can not be stressed enough. It is incumbent upon these advisers to work together to assist the dentist through this precarious period of his or her life.
Even with the cooperation of the professional advisers, the dentist most likely will still experience difficulties in accomplishing the finality of the proceedings. There is little that can be done about the delays because the court will award postponements on a very flexible approach. This makes the cooperation between the dentist’s advisers that much more important. The dentist’s experts want to make sure that they are not the ones delaying the proceedings since the dentist typically will want to end the proceedings to be able to move on with his or her life.
Up next: How to find the right experts...
Finding the professional experts to assist the dentist
Know that the dental CPA is the best financial person to retain for assistance with the valuation. Supporting the attorney through the litigation process is an equally important provision to the proceedings, especially if the attorney has little experience working with dentists. Unfortunately, that is the norm for attorneys when working with the dental profession since there are few court cases involving dentists, so it is often difficult for attorneys to get the experience needed.
A recommendation is for the dental CPA to find the attorney, so that these professionals are both experienced as much as possible. If the dentist has retained the attorney, it is critical that a personal injury attorney, one with retail experience or other expertise that has nothing to do with the current situation is avoided. If it is too late for that, as long as the attorney follows the lead of the dental CPA, the dentist should still be able to come out of the problem with his or her finances in a stable situation.
The dentist must know that this problem will eventually end - and the sooner the better. Future earnings and the increase in the value of the dental practice will more than alleviate the financial dilemma the divorce has caused. Understanding and accepting this fact should allow the dentist to feel better about his or her financial future.