If you are getting divorced, you may be surprised at how much space your financial situation takes up in the process. The things you and your spouse own as a couple are known as marital assets, and knowing what you have is vital. Read on to find out what marital assets are and to read a list of some that you might overlook if you're not careful.
Make an Asset Inventory
First, you should differentiate between what marital assets are and what they are not. Inheritances, gifts, and anything you owned before the marriage are not marital assets. Anything purchased after the date of the marriage may be a marital asset, regardless of who bought it or who used it the most. Here is a list of some common marital assets:
- Family home, vacation homes, rental or investment real estate
- Vehicles, boats, recreational vehicles, travel trailers, all-terrain vehicles, jet skis, etc.
- Furniture, artwork, jewelry, etc.
- Savings and checking accounts, retirement funds, pensions, stocks, bonds, etc.
- Life insurance plans
The listing of assets is important because you will be dividing them up based on how your state treats property. In community property states, assets are split down the middle, and in equitable distribution states, the person who bought and used the asset owns it. The following is a list of some assets that you may not readily identify as such but which may prove to be valuable when you divorce. For example, even if you don't want the item, if your spouse does want it, it becomes a bargaining chip.
- Pets and animal (from dogs and cats to horses and cattle)
- Rare coins
- Collectibles like antiques, cars, wine, stamps, first edition books, sports memorabilia, etc.
- Memberships to country clubs, fitness clubs, golf courses, etc.
- Treasured family photographs and videos
- Burial plots and burial plans (that can be sold)
- Loans – If one of you is owed money, that is considered a (potential) marital asset
- Tax refunds
- Intellectual property – This category covers patents, copyrights, royalties, and trademarks—regardless of whether or not these assets have created income, they might do so in the future and are considered marital property.
- Business earnings (for those who own businesses)
- Travel reward points and miles
- Gifts – Gifts that are given specifically to you or to your spouse are exempt from marital property splits, but if you gift each other, that is a different story and that is considered marital property—so anything you gave or received from your spouse is up for grabs when it's time to divide assets.
To find out more about marital assets, speak to your divorce attorney at a firm such as Madison Law Firm PLLC.