Valuing and Dividing Collectibles in Divorce

Have an antique gun collection or art collection that’s valuable? A family quilt, preserved from the Civil War era that you want to pass down to your children? Asset division is a part of all divorces and all marital assets must be valued because they are subject to equitable distribution. This includes collectibles.

If the collectibles were yours prior to marriage, they will not be part of your divorce settlement, so no valuation is necessary. If, however, they were purchased after your date of marriage, both spouses have a legal right to the collection.

Some common types of collectibles subject to division in divorce settlements include the following.

  • Stamp, letter, and coin collections
  • China and decorative plates
  • Sports memorabilia
  • Movie props
  • Figurines
  • Wine
  • One-of-a-kind items

Options for Dividing Collectibles in Divorce

There are several ways divorcing couples can handle the division of collectibles.

  • Sell the collection and split the proceeds.
  • Divide the collection (e.g., you each take half of the baseball cards)
  • One party can buy the other out, or they can negotiate a trade (e.g., he keeps the wine collection and she keeps the antique coins)

In most cases, all items must be assigned a fair market value. This entails consulting a certified appraiser. You can find one near you on the National Association of Appraisers website. It will save you money if you both can agree on one appraiser. However, if someone is unhappy with the valuation, each spouse could hire his or her own appraiser.

Negotiating Your Divorce Settlement

Property division can get pretty heated during a divorce, particularly with collectibles that have sentimental value. Also, keep in mind that in most cases, it is not the purchase price of the collection used to value it, but rather the fair market value. If you bought a case of wine 15 years ago, for instance, you will have to determine what the wine would sell for in today’s market.

Negotiating the division of your assets can be particularly challenging with contentious divorces. It is advisable to consult a divorce attorney to protect your rights and the collectibles that mean a great deal to you. You are welcome to talk your case over with divorce lawyer Molly B. Kenny. Call the office today or fill out our contact form.

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Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
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