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Divorce and asset inventories, part 2: gifts and collectibles

Let's resume our discussion of steps that divorcing parties can take to identify assets available to be divided in a property settlement and determine how much those marital assets are worth.

In the first part of the post, we touched on basic items like your house, bank accounts and retirement savings.

In this part of the post, let's look a little farther afield. After all, there are many different forms that marital property can take. It makes sense to know what to look for when you're dividing everything up.

Consider, for example, collectibles. Many people like to collect things, and that certainly includes many husbands and wives. Sometimes, of course, the objects are not particularly valuable, such as scuffed-up old baseball cards or vintage records.

Other times, however, there may be a collection of considerable value. For example, original art work that was purchased early in a long-term marriage could easily have appreciated to a price level far beyond what it was at acquisition.

The rule of thumb, many advisers say, is that if an object is specifically included in your homeowner's insurance, it's worth including in the divorce settlement.

And then there is the question of gifts. We're not talking here about a celebrity extravaganza like the notorious Kim Kardashian - Kris Humphries wedding, in which, after a short-lived marriage, the groom tried to get some of the gifts he gave his bride back.

We are referring, rather, to gifts that may meet the definition of marital property. For example, if separate property from a gift is commingled with marital property during the marriage, it may need to be included among the marital property to be divided in the event of divorce.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: Don't Forget These Marital Assets," Jeff Landers, Octd. 16, 2013

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