— by Dana Heyde

Esther Williams’ passion for diving and synchronized swimming allowed her to carve out a unique position as a leading lady in Hollywood. Yet, her immense success was curtailed when her accountant admitted he had been stealing from her for years and that she was penniless. The embezzlement occurred because she never looked at her bank statements or asked for an accounting. The sad ending of Esther Williams’ successful career is a cautionary tale to all women to be actively involved in all aspects of their finances.

How many times have you opened Quickbooks only to find that the balance didn’t match your bank account? If you closed the program and vowed to deal with the discrepancy another day, you fall into the category of people who ignore their finances, something that can be dangerous for women business owners. If the behavior above sounds like your approach to money, then you might very well be on the road to succumbing to the same fate as Esther Williams.

Instead, make sure that you are aware of your business’ finances and don’t let discrepancies go unresolved. Over the years, I have helped numerous clients pursue claims of fraud, conversion, and other causes of action against their own business partners for stealing money. Often, my clients simply placed too much trust in their partners who also controlled the accounting, and never thought to double check the company’s finances. If those clients had reviewed the accounting on a regular basis, had a neutral third party balance the accounts, or required dual signatures for withdrawals, many of the issues could have been avoided.

The best way to ensure that your company is solvent and your business partner is honest is to be involved in all aspects of your business!

danaheydeDana Heyde is a Partner at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde in Orange, where the firm has had a continuing presence in the community for over twenty-five years. CKLH focuses on Family Law matters and Estate Planning. CKLH works closely with each client to understand their objectives and guide them through the legal process. CKLH would be honored to help you with your legal needs.