When you start the divorce process, you need to look for ways to make the divorce more manageable and less messy. Listing assets is one such way to help you negotiate a fair divorce settlement.
Compiling a comprehensive list of assets and liabilities is crucial for dividing property. You should list all your finances, both shared and independent.
Why Do I Need to List All Assets and Liabilities?
If you do things correctly, the divorce settlement will protect you during and after the divorce. If not done right, the divorce might end with an erroneous division of debts and assets, leaving you at risk of legal action after the divorce.
If you leave out some financial information or lie about it, you could face serious legal consequences and a potential charge of contempt of court.
Listing Your Assets
Your assets refer to all possessions, properties, businesses, accounts, investments, or anything with a cash value association. You must document all these assets before the property dividing process commences.
It is not easy sorting all your assets, especially if you and your partner had accumulated numerous assets during the marriage or you have assets like business interests or stocks. In a written list, create categories for the various assets and include details about each asset to answer any questions that might crop up from the attorney or your spouse.
Organizing the assets shows your goodwill and transparency, helping to remove doubts and accusations that you might have hidden assets.
The list of assets should include:
- Shared, personal, retirement accounts and all your credit cards
- Real estate assets, land, income-generating properties, and vacation homes
- Cars, boats, trailers, motorcycles, etc.
- Investments such as retirement funds and life insurance. Stocks, annuities, bonds, intellectual properties, etc.
- Personal belongings of value such as jewelry, art, antiques, etc. You might have to consult an appraiser who will determine the actual value of these items.
You must identify and list all assets you owned before marriage, assets inherited while married, or assets you received as gifts during the marriage. These may be exempt from equitable division.
To own and operate a business, you must document all the business accounts and properties. If you are unsure about your business’s value, you may consider consulting a qualified auditor.
This process can be pretty challenging, especially for people who lack organization or those who may not know much about the family’s financial affairs or have access to documents.
If you know your spouse owns or handles assets you are not privy to, ensure you list those down. Notify your attorney about them so the lawyer can request more information during the discovery process.
Listing Your Liabilities in Divorce Proceedings
After making a list of your assets, you need to take stock of your liabilities or debts. It’s best to list any debts you acquired before and during the marriage.
Your list of liabilities should include:
- Equity and home loans
- Auto loans
- Personal loans
- Credit cards
- Student loans
- Medical bills
Most debts you both acquire during the marriage are marital debt if they were acquired for the benefit of both spouses.
Real Estate Assets and Liabilities in Divorces
The most common divorce asset is the family home. However, the other items, such as vacation homes, are also items that need division. A vacation home can be an income stream, an asset, or both. Income-generating properties such as rentals, farms, and commercial real estate can also be an asset or an income stream.
Suppose you own a rental apartment and a relative lives there. The apartment may look like an asset in theory but could be a liability if you are the one paying all the apartment bills.
Other divorce assets, such as parking spaces with a deed, vacant land, and timeshares, may not be conventional real estate assets. The asset does not have a fixed value, which may be tricky to determine. Real estate takes on varying forms, each being complex in its unique way and involving paperwork to transfer it.
Such marital property takes a lot of time to divide and may need the approval of a governing or financial institution. Fair divorce settlements consider the value per item and how complex valuing it is, taxation, its liquidation potential, or income generation.
Liquid Assets in a Divorce
Unlike real estate assets, bank accounts like savings or checking account liquidation are easier to divide. However, the valuation and division of the accounts are complex based on your paycheck’s timing and bills’ due dates.
For instance, the balance in your accounts may be high when you start the mediation, but the account balance is different by the time your divorce is finalized. Other accounts, such as money market or credit union accounts, may require that the holder have a brokerage account, work in certain professions, or be employed by a company.
The definition of divorce assets could be pretty broad and consist of unorthodox items such as digital assets. Some people may have significant collections of digital items like .mp3 music. Since only one person can retain the original possession, these files may be worth much, as replacing them may be pretty expensive.
If it’s worth something, it is a safe bet to assume it’s a divorce asset that needs to be accounted for.
You must work with a professional to ensure you properly account for everything. You need to start the value assessment process early as this process might require more time to allow for investigations due to the assets’ complex or unique nature, like a digital music collection.
To get the help of qualified divorce lawyers, contact us by filling out our online form.
FAQs About Divorce Assets
Who gets the marital home in a divorce?
What becomes of our property and debt when we get divorced?
How do you differentiate between marital and separate property?
Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.