Under Arizona law, most couples must divide their marital assets 50-50 during a divorce. When a 50-50 split isn’t required, divorcing spouses must still separate their assets in an “equitable ” manner based on the circumstances of their divorce.
In either case, the process starts with identifying the assets on the table.
During the divorce process, spouses’ assets can fall into one of two categories—they can either qualify as “separate” property or as “community” property. Community assets are subject to division, while separate assets are (and remain) the property of one spouse.
It is important to be as comprehensive as possible when going through a divorce. If spouses overlook any community property during the divorce process, it can be much more difficult to deal with this property after their divorce is final. As a result, spouses who are contemplating a divorce in Arizona should try to create a complete list of their property (separate and community), also known as a property inventory.
How to Create a Comprehensive List of Assets (Property Inventory) for Your Divorce
When we say it is important to be comprehensive, we mean it. Couples can have numerous types of property and may have property in numerous locations. While creating a property inventory might seem fairly straightforward initially, the process can quickly become more daunting when you start thinking about things like family heirlooms, retirement accounts, music and video libraries, and cryptocurrency wallets.
But, while it may be daunting, it is also very feasible. If you take a systematic approach, you can work through the process and feel confident that you’ve covered everything. With this in mind, here are 10 tips for creating a property inventory for your divorce in Arizona:
1. Create an Actual List
When creating a property inventory for your divorce, you should make an actual list. It doesn’t matter whether you use a piece of paper, your laptop, your tablet, or your phone—but you will want to write things down. If you try to keep track of everything in your head, you will likely forget things, and you may quickly feel overwhelmed.
Before you start creating your list, it can be helpful to brainstorm. You should also do this in writing. Take some time to think about everything you own and where it is located—whether it is in your living room, in your attic or garage, at the bank, or in the cloud.
3. Don’t Forget About Intangible Assets
When creating a property inventory, many people focus on their physical assets—which is completely fine. But you can’t forget to inventory your intangible assets as well. These days, almost everyone has intangible assets in some form, from music and movie libraries to cryptocurrency wallets.
4. Get Organized
Once you’ve brainstormed and you know where you need to look to create your property inventory, it’s time to get organized. Create a plan to inventory each type of property in each location systematically. You can do this however makes the most sense for you—the key is to ensure you don’t overlook any assets that could be on the table in your divorce.
5. Walk Around Your House
One of the easiest steps to create a property inventory is to walk around your house. While you might think you can picture everything in every room, it is important to walk around with your list. Go from room to room, check in closets and drawers, and write down everything you see. Furniture, appliances, electronics, jewelry, clothing, tools—these are all items that you will need to address during the divorce process.
6. Make Note of Any Secured Debts
As you start creating your property inventory, it will be helpful to make a note of any secured debts. These are debts linked to your property—such as the mortgage for your house and the loan for your car. Community debts are also subject to division, and if a secured debt burdens an asset, this can factor into how the asset gets addressed during the divorce process.
7. Make a Note of When You Acquired Each Asset (and How)
One of the key factors for determining whether an asset qualifies as “separate” or “community” is when it was acquired. As a general rule, assets acquired before the date of marriage are separate, while those acquired after the date of marriage are community property. While there are some exceptions, noting when (and how) you acquired your assets—to the extent that you can—will help your divorce lawyer determine which assets are subject to division.
8. When You Think of Additional Items, Write Them Down
As you go about your day-to-day life, you may think of items that you haven’t included in your property inventory. If this happens, you should write them down—don’t assume you’ll remember them later. Whether at work, running errands, or at home on the couch, make a note on your phone to remind yourself to update your inventory.
9. Locate Relevant Records (i.e., Deeds, Titles, and Loans)
As you identify your separate and community assets, it will also be helpful if you can locate any relevant documentation. For example, you will need to know where you can find the deed for your home and the titles for each vehicle. You don’t necessarily need to collect these now—noting where you can find them on your property inventory is fine.
10. Start Prioritizing Your Community Property
Finally, as you get a picture of the assets likely to be on the table in your divorce, you will want to start prioritizing. Neither spouse gets everything, and, as noted above, most divorces result in a 50-50 split. By thinking about which assets matter most, you can begin preparing yourself for the next stages in the process.
Request a Free Consultation with an Arizona Divorce Lawyer at Weingart Family Law
If you are considering a divorce in Arizona, we encourage you to contact us for more information. To arrange a free initial consultation with a divorce lawyer at Weingart Family Law, call us at 480-605-0074 or inquire online today.