Before you can divide property in your divorce, you have to know how much your assets and property are worth. Determining the value of your assets—including real estate, bank accounts, pension and retirement accounts, real property, and even your business—requires accurate appraisals by property valuation experts. Hecht & Associates works with a team of business and property valuation professionals in order to determine your property value and value of your assets, helping to ensure you receive your fair share through a settlement with your spouse or court judgment.
Determine if the Property is Subject to Division
Under Maryland law, almost all assets, property, or business interests acquired while you and your spouse remain married fall under the category of marital property, and the court must consider them during the property division process. The exceptions to this rule include:
- Assets received through inheritance
- Assets received as a gift from a third party
- Property covered by a prenuptial or other legal agreement
- Any assets traceable to income from any of these sources
Of course, any property one spouse acquired prior to marriage is almost always separate property and therefore not subject to division.
How does property and asset valuation work?
We work with experts who specialize in valuing various types of assets, including businesses, collections and memorabilia, and more.
The process of determine property value and business valuation can be quite complex. A lot goes into appraisals and valuations. Appraisers look at what similar property sold for in your local market or nationally, depending on the asset. They must examine several details (discussed later) beyond the amount paid or the face value of the asset.
For example, when evaluating a wine collection, it’s important to look at more than just the price paid for each bottle or the quantity of bottles in the collection. When dividing the collection, an appraiser should consider the current value of the bottles based on what they have recently sold for.
The date the partners acquired each bottle will also play into property division, as those acquired prior to marriage may not be subject to division, while those acquired after marriage would be.
This process is rarely quick, and may take several weeks or months, depending on how many assets you have and the complexity of the assets. It is important to work with a firm with experienced business valuation lawyers who can connect you with the right experts to get a fair assessment.
Does property valuation include my house?
For many couples, the family home is the largest asset in terms of value. This is especially true when the family resided in the home for a number of years and built equity in the property.
You can calculate equity—the value you have in your home—by taking the fair market value of your house and subtracting what you owe on your mortgage, home equity credit lines, or liens. To determine equity, though, you must first know the current market value of your property. Most people utilize a real estate appraiser to value the home or have a real estate agent prepare a market analysis.
It is also important to note that the court may consider any non-marital contributions paid toward the purchase of your home, such as an inheritance used for the down payment.
What will happen to my business?
Just like any other asset, a business opened after marriage is marital property unless it came as a gift or inheritance. And even in these cases, if the other spouse helped build the business, that spouse may still have a right to part of the business’s value.
Determining the value of a business and how much this value appreciated during the marriage is much more difficult than appraising real estate or other property. At Hecht & Associates, we work with expert appraisers who have years of experience with business valuation who can value your business based on factors including:
- Real estate owned or terms of your lease
- Business fixtures or other tangible assets
- Accounts receivable
- Trademarks, copyrights, and patents owned
- Goodwill (what role the proprietor’s reputation plays in the business success)
- Business debts
Putting an accurate value on your business is key when dividing it in a divorce. Both spouses should understand a) whether the business is subject to division in the first place, and b) the full value of the business.
Why do I need Hecht & Associates?
Placing a value on property and business during divorce plays a key role in a fair division of property. With an accurate appraisal, one or both spouses may not receive a fair deal.
Because of the importance of asset valuation and the expertise required to value those assets, this is a complex issue in many divorce cases. Hecht & Associates fights for fair property division for our clients, and that includes identifying the value of every asset subject to division. Call us today at 301-587-2099 to learn more and speak with a business valuation attorney who can assist you with your property value & business valuation needs.