Friday, July 22, 2005

Mo Money, Mo Problems

(N.B. The comic above is from Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis. He's amazing)

I don’t think I have mentioned this before, but I work at an accounting firm. The firm I work for specializes in tax, wealth preservation, trust, and estate services for very high net worth individuals. In other words, we help filthy rich bastards keep every penny they possibly can. And our clients are rich--filthy, stinking rich.

For the most part, my job isn’t too bad. The people I work with are nice, and most of our clients are pretty cordial. Sure, they may occasionally demand that we deduct their botox injections and plastic surgeries as medical expenses, but most of the time, they’re friendly.

But this week I have been working on two specific projects that are really making my stomach churn.

First, one of our clients is currently revising his will. I have been assigned to work with the lawyers to make the necessary changes. This guy has laid out how every single dollar he’s ever made will be spent for fifty years after his death. He has everything set up into trusts so he can control everything from the grave. His wife gets a certain monthly allowance, which she has no control over (the allowance goes down once she is eligible for social security—wouldn’t want her getting too uppity). He has also designated what can and can’t be sold from his estate. Another provision allows his wife to buy the house she has lived in for the past 20 years from the trust for a certain dollar amount. What is wrong with this man? What the hell is wrong with just leaving your wife and kids your money? Do we really need to make it this hard? Does he not trust his family? Oh wait--I forgot--it’s about taxes, right? He doesn’t want to pay any taxes on his estate. Heaven forbid he has to pay his fucking taxes like the rest of us poor slobs. I pity this man. No, strike that—I pity his wife.

Second, another of our clients is going through a divorce. Divorces are always a ton of fun, but they’re especially fun when shit loads of cash are involved. So my job this week has been to go through all of his past investment bank statements and separate out stocks that were community property from stocks that were his separate property. That way we can determine the exact dollar amount he has to pay. (There is only one stock that is separate—a stock his mommy gave him) Is it really necessary to account for every single dollar earned and spent in a divorce—especially when you have so many of them? Supposedly, their divorce is an amicable one, so why can’t they just say, “good enough” and be done with it? The amount of money they will spend on the attorneys and accountants to separate out every single dollar will surely be more than they would have gained by accounting for every red cent.

People are greedy bastards and their priorities are totally out of whack. Working here makes me not even want to be rich. But if I ever am, I’m leaving every last dime to charity when I die. My kids will be so’s gonna be sweet.