By Andrew Brower, MBA, ASA

Creating a Marital Balance Sheet

A marital balance sheet is more than a simple listing of assets. This highly important document serves as your client’s reference for numerous high-stakes decisions. Hence, the balance sheet must be readily understood by your client and 100% accurate. It should also be easily explained, updated, and replicated (for future use) by you. Leveraging the capabilities of Microsoft Excel can help you produce balance sheets that achieve these objectives and more.

Here are a few quick tips for using Excel to optimize your balance sheets.

1. Pay attention to formatting features.

Easy-to-read balance sheets allow your clients to quickly digest the information they need without exacerbating a stressful situation. Another benefit of a clearly organized balance sheet? You can easily explain it to your client.

Excel’s broad selection of formatting features gives you the ability to produce clean, consistent, and professional-looking balance sheets. This includes features that enable you to properly format numbers, set up a printer-friendly worksheet, and ensure consistent line spacing. Yes, these may seem like minor details, but they can make a big difference in the look and readability of your balance sheets.

2. Incorporate dynamic cell references when possible.

You should be able to efficiently update the balance sheet as needed throughout your client’s case. Furthermore, you shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel for each new case. Making use of dynamic cell references can help. This time-saving feature allows the updates you make in one cell to flow through the entire worksheet. If you update a citation in one cell, for instance, the update will automatically populate into other cells that “reference” it.

3. Use formulas to streamline calculations.

Adding formulas to your worksheet is critical to avoiding a potentially costly error. When used correctly, formulas prevent you from having to manually calculate numbers in a worksheet and recalculate them after an update. For example, you can use a formula to automatically calculate total assets and liabilities of each party to the marital estate. You can also include a formula to automatically calculate the equalizer needed to offset the division of assets.

Are you using Excel to its fullest potential?

There are countless different ways to optimize a worksheet in Excel. What I’ve discussed here is barely the tip of the iceberg. Using just these three features—formatting, dynamic cell references, and formulas—can help you efficiently prepare professional-looking and accurate balance sheets that, in turn, can empower your clients to make informed decisions.

Although we finance professionals live and die by the spreadsheet, we understand that Excel may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you have questions or would like expert assistance with your marital balance sheets, contact us today.

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