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What’s the fair market value of your marital property?

One of the first things you will need to do after you and your spouse decide to get a divorce in North Carolina is a thorough inventory of all your assets and liabilities. While this naturally includes checking, savings and retirement accounts, it also includes your collections, antiques and artwork. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, all of these objects must be correctly identified before their conditions can be assessed by a professional appraiser and a fair market value attached.

After you and your spouse have listed all of your personal property, but before you hire a valuation expert, you should provide your own estimate of what you think each item may be worth. The more items you and your spouse agree on, the less you may need to spend on the appraiser. Your inventory should include the following:

  • A picture of the property
  • Its type, title and subject matter
  • Measurements
  • Markings and inscriptions
  • Distinguishing features, dates and maker
  • A brief description

While there is no official licensing board that can provide you with a list of qualified appraisers, you may be able to find one that is certified through a professional organization or association. This is important since it gives credibility if you need to go to court over property division issues, and you need the expert testimony to ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

The appraiser will probably use either the cost or the market comparison approach when determining value. When using the cost approach, the expert analyzes replacement value of the item based on the lowest amount someone might be willing to spend on it. However, unique features of the item may make this approach unacceptable on its own, so a market comparison may also be done to determine how the item compares to similar objects being sold at galleries or auctions, or by private or wholesale dealers.

This information may give you an idea of what to expect from the process of identifying the value of your personal property, but situations differ, so it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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