Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Dealing with collectibles in divorce

Within a divorce settlement, so many matters must be addressed and resolved. This includes everything from alimony and child support to parenting time and property division. Property division includes collectibles, many of which are worth a great amount of money.

What will happen to the Cezanne, de Kooning and David Hockney paintings? Who gets the wine and luxury car collections? The only options are that you will get them, your spouse will get them, you will split them evenly, or if you cannot agree, sell them and split the proceeds.

Keep, divide or sell

When it comes to asset division in divorce, everything is game, including your collectibles. If you and your spouse purchased something together or either one of you obtained it during your marriage, then it is considered marital property, so it is something that will be split equitably. Among the marital property items, several can be easily divided.

However, if that movie memorabilia collection, precious metals collection of gold and silver, dinosaur fossil, baseball autographed by Babe Ruth and guitar collection were your property before you got married, they remain yours because they are non-marital property.

If the two of you cannot agree upon a fair-and-square arrangement for marital property - not likely when a tempestuous divorce occurs among the affluent - then you may have to sell the collection.

Here are a couple steps you must take in preparation of dividing your collectibles:

  • Put together an inventory of your collectibles.
  • Determine the value. Many affluent collectors claim they do so for the love of it and not for monetary reasons. This is why some of them have little idea of the actual value of their collections. Enlist a valuation expert who will determine the fair market value.

You invested a great amount of time in your marriage and a great amount of money in your collectibles. In divorce, no matter what, you will have part with your spouse. When it comes to your collectibles, do your best to understand their value - monetarily and sentimentally - and have an attorney as a skillful guide to help you keep as much of it as you can.

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