by Dr. Lori Verderame
Get an Antiques Appraisal
In addition to your home, a significant amount of joint marital or community property is found in the value of the items in your home. Like the real estate appraisal for your house, divorcing couples should get an appraisal of their personal property too. This is wise because the value of the items in your home quickly add up to a significant piece of the marital pie. Appraising these objects determines current value of your stuff which will result in a fair division of property upon divorce. A personal property appraisal can help insure items from damage during an inevitable post-divorce move, too.
Your Spouse’s Antiques
Even if you don’t have a multi-million dollar art or antiques collection, you still want your fair share of the marital assets. How do you know what is your fair share? For example, for years you thought that the best part of your husband’s fishing hobby was the quiet time that you enjoyed while he was wading in a stream with the trout. Unaware that his fishing lures, rods, and reels can be pricey collectibles, you urge him to take his fishing equipment–purchased at flea markets during your marriage–out of the garage. You discover by doing some research that those smelly fishing lures regularly sell between $50 to $500 each (yes, EACH) at sportsmen auctions. You nearly faint when you learn that a 1910 Giant Haskell lure sold for $101,000 at auction. That’s a fortune. Letting your husband have his old fishing gear was fine when you were in love with the old man in the sea, but now he has authority over a very valuable collection that could pay for the lion’s share of your daughter’s college education! And as joint marital property, you paid for half of it!
On the other hand, you agree to let your wife keep the antique silver tea service because it will cramp your bachelor style now that a divorce is looming on the horizon. You learn that the antique set is valued at $5,000 and quickly develop a renewed interest in oolong tea. You want your share of the pot–literally. Appraising personal property isn’t about reading tea leaves, it requires correct identification of antiques and current market analysis from an honest, highly educated appraiser without a financial interest in buying or selling your objects.
You should consider future dollars when facing a divorce. Women traditionally earn less than men and many run out of money after a divorce. Some divorce experts advise that getting control of the art or antiques collection which will appreciate over time may be a better deal than getting the depreciating automobile in the divorce settlement. Also, most divorce lawyers are not appraisers and can’t authenticate or appraise the Charles Rennie Mackintosh side chair that you bought on your second honeymoon trip to Glasgow, Scotland. Don’t rely on your attorney to make such decisions on your behalf. Divorce attorneys work with expert appraisers to evaluate and to protect clients’ assets. Appraisers with the proper educational background provide true and current values of art, antiques, and collectibles.
If you are happily married or blissfully single, it is best to update personal property appraisals for insurance purposes every two years. Also, update appraisals when you have a child, when a relative passes away, or when you relocate to a new home.
Contact Dr. Lori about what type of appraisal is best for you before you settle your divorce.