By now, you’re probably aware that New York is an equitable distribution state. As such, under New York law, a married couple’s marital estate is divided in an “equitable” fashion, which means “fair,” it doesn’t necessarily mean “equal.”
When you think about marital assets, real estate, automobiles, investments, insurance policies, retirement accounts, cash in bank accounts, boats, yachts, etc. probably all comes to mind. However, many high-net-worth couples have other valuable assets, such as fine art, jewelry, horses, classic cars, antiques, and expensive rugs that they forget to place sufficient value and importance on.
Valuation of Collectibles in a New York Divorce
It may be easy to have a realtor put a price tag on your home in the Hamptons or the cabin in Park City. But when it comes to the oil painting you bought in London in 2000 or the Persian rug you bought one summer or the classic car you bought at an auction, these items may not be valuated as quickly. However, if you and your spouse purchased a collectible years ago, there’s a good chance it’s worth more now, perhaps a lot more.
There is one issue that we’ve observed. Sometimes, a spouse has an attachment to a particular antique, piece of furniture, painting, or other items of value. For example, perhaps you are attached to a World War II painting you bought because your grandfather was in the war and it reminds you of him.
In such a case, you may be willing to let your spouse have other items of much more value than the World War II piece in exchange for it, but you could be letting your emotions cloud your judgment. You could be cheating yourself.
It can be difficult to part with your favorite collectibles or to reduce them into dollar figures, but the proper valuation of all of your valuables is a critical part of the property division process. This allows you to make informed financial decisions with your eyes, heart, and mind wide open.