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Stock options in a high-asset divorce: CEO cashes in shares

Property division is important in virtually every divorce. Whether a couple is of modest means or is very wealthy, getting assets and debts divided up fairly gives both parties the best chance possible to move on.

But in cases of high-asset divorce, the complexities of the financial arrangements involved in a divorce settlement can certainly increase. That is why prosperous couples in Illinois and across the nation often employ accountants and other professionals to help structure divorce settlements.

Sometimes these settlements are structured in a way that gives stock options to an ex-spouse. A recent case involving a corporate CEO and his ex-wife shows how lucrative such options can potentially be.

The CEO of Best Buy disclosed last week that he had sold substantial shares of company stock. He made over $10 million on the sale, after paying over $6 million to cash in stock options. 

Best Buy acknowledged in a statement that the occasion for the sale was the CEO's need for funds to make a financial settlement with his wife in their divorce proceeding. The sales accounted for about 20 percent of the CEO's stock holdings in Best Buy.

Obviously CEOs tend to be very wealthy people. They may face property division issues on a scale that is difficult to comprehend for most of us. There can also be many complex financial issues in a high-asset divorce.

But in most ways high-income couples are not really different from many other couples seeking to resolve property division issues. There needs to be transparency about the assets to be divided. And the division has to be an equitable one -- though defining what is fair and equitable is not always an easy task.

Source: CNN Money, "Best Buy CEO dumps large stake to pay for divorce," Chris Isidore, September 11, 2013

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