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How can I be sure marital assets are valued fairly in divorce?

Massachusetts is not a community property state, which means that, during a divorce, marital property is divided equitably by the courts whenever the parties cannot reach accord on their own. However, it can be exceedingly difficult to make sure that you receive full value for your share of the marital assets if you do not know the true value of those assets in the first place. Below are some tips to help you determine value of marital assets that sometimes get overlooked.

-- Make sure you have a recently updated list of the contents of all safety deposit boxes and storage units.

-- Never sign any blank forms. Read over everything you sign, especially tax documents.

-- Keep a current list of credit card account numbers, lines of credit at lending institutions and investment accounts. Know balance owed on credit accounts and the amounts in investment holdings.

-- Know the breakdown of costs to run your household each month and factor in a percentage of seasonal, annual and periodic expenses.

-- Keep copies of any documentation regarding royalties, mineral rights, farm subsidies, etc.

-- Make copies of life insurance policies and beneficiary designations.

-- Make sure that you know all of your spouse's employment benefits (including hard-to-value "fringe" benefits) and pension information.

-- Have certified appraisals done on all collectibles, not just stamps or coins. That KISS memorabilia collection your spouse has in the spare room could be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

-- Add up all medical and dental debts owed by you and your spouse. Include any debts for minor children and costs of all past, present and future medical supplies (diabetic syringes, eyeglasses, contact lenses, prescription meds, rehabilitative devices, etc.).

-- If you co-signed for educational loans for your children, include the balances in the debt column. If they default, you are still on the hook for their debt.

-- Keep good records of charitable donations and tithes to churches.

Your divorce attorney can recommend reputable appraisers who can accurately valuate marital assets to help you receive your fair share in a divorce.

Source: Equality in Marriage, "Know What Your Marriage Is Worth" accessed Mar. 04, 2015

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