Going through a divorce is one of life’s greatest emotional stressors, even when you’re the one who initiated the process. One aspect that often causes significant stress is dividing personal property. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), I’ve witnessed firsthand what can happen when emotion takes control. I’ve had clients spend thousands of dollars litigating a special antique lamp (an actual example!), an old vinyl collection, camping gear and the like. Rather than see your legal fees mount in this area, why not create a workable plan? What follows is a helpful guide to creating a personal property division plan that minimizes stress and is easier on your wallet.
1. Take Inventory:
Before making any decisions, create an inventory of all personal property inside the home. This could include furniture, electronics, appliances, outdoor gear, kitchenware, artwork, collectibles, and other items of value. Take photos to ensure accuracy and go room by room.
2. Determine Ownership:
Identify items that are individually owned; inherited, gifted, or were acquired before the marriage. These may not be subject to division. However, it’s crucial to consult with your attorney or mediator to understand the legalities specific to your situation.
3. Assess Emotional Attachment:
Personal property often carries emotional significance. Each spouse may have sentimental attachments to certain items. Discuss the emotional value and importance of specific belongings to gain a better understanding of each other’s perspectives.
4. Decision-Making Session
Divide personal property by taking turns selecting items or creating a list of preferences. Ensure fairness by alternating selections or using a point system where each spouse assigns value to items they desire the most. An insightful professional colleague of mine suggested a brilliant idea that I now recommend to every client. Start off the session by stating which items you’re willing to give up instead of stating those items you want to keep. Starting off from this perspective puts both spouses in the mindset of compromise which makes everything smoother.
5. Consider Financial Factors
Evaluate the monetary value of personal property, keeping in mind it should be valued at garage sale resale prices-not what you paid. Engage the services of a professional appraiser if necessary. Consider selling valuable items and splitting the proceeds or offsetting their value against other assets during the property division process. As always, consult with your attorney for their legal perspective on this aspect.
6. Mediation or Legal Support:
If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on personal property division, consider utilizing mediation services or seek legal support. Mediators and attorneys can help facilitate negotiations and find solutions that are fair for both parties. This should always be an option of last resort as it’s best to save your legal dollars for the issues you can’t resolve so easily on your own.
Remember, seeking the guidance of professionals, such as divorce financial planners, can provide valuable insights and support. With patience and a willingness to compromise, you can achieve a fair and equitable division of personal property, allowing you to move forward with confidence and a fresh start.
For more information about how Pearl Planning can assist you during your divorce, reach out at email@example.com.
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