For many people facing the asset division process in divorce, the first and primary focus is on the biggest assets shared between spouses. The marital home, large investment accounts and retirement funds are all frequent sources of contention.
While getting a fair share of financial assets is important to a fair outcome in your divorce, you shouldn’t overlook the potential value of many physical assets. Everything from your home furnishings and artwork to vehicles and collectibles can represent hundreds if not thousands of dollars in property value.
Putting a reasonable price on those assets is a critical step if you hope to receive a fair portion of the marital estate.
When you buy a new vehicle, a work of art or even a parcel of unimproved land as a long-term investment during your marriage, you likely use marital funds to do so. Unless you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement about certain assets or investments, you can expect to split most everything you acquire, earn or purchase with your ex.
The same is true of deposits in bank accounts and balances accumulated in investment holdings and retirement funds or pensions. Even accounts held by one spouse may potentially be subject to division under New York’s equitable division standard.
What you paid for an item isn’t always representative of what it is actually worth. Many items increase in value over time – some exponentially – depending on market circumstances. Physical assets can represent a substantial portion of your marital estate. Some spouses will even purchase expensive physical items as a way to hide marital assets from the courts.
A work of art could be worth many times what it was at the time of purchase, particularly if the artist has since stopped producing. A piece of real estate that you were able to purchase for a song a few years ago may be worth a lot more due to infrastructure investments nearby.
Determining a fair market value for certain assets can require working with professionals, but doing so will help ensure that you have the right information to provide for the courts and receive the best possible terms in your pending divorce.
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