Wealthy New Jersey couples face unique problems when deciding to end their marriage. Most of these issues will fall into the general category of “asset division.” A couple cannot begin to fairly divide their assets if they do not know the value of those assets. Perhaps the most reliable method of determining the value of family assets is to retain a professional appraiser early in the divorce process.
The appraiser’s task is to determine the fair market value of the couple’s various assets. The appraiser may provide an opinion regarding value on possessions ranging from the couple’s home to smaller assets such as fine art, antiques, rare automobiles, furniture, and the like.
How does an appraiser reach an opinion as to value?
The appraiser usually visually inspects the asset, whether the family home or a historic antique. After the inspection, the appraiser relies on experience to set a value. In valuing a house or other building, the appraisers’ work is a bit more complex.
In valuing the family home, the appraiser collects basic data, such as age, lot size, real estate taxes paid, and location. The appraiser next makes a physical inspection of the building. During the inspection, the appraiser calculates room sizes, observes the quality of construction and maintenance, and notes the existence of any amenities, such as a tennis court or swimming pool.
After completing this appraisal stage, the appraiser uses one of three methods to form an opinion as to value. The first two methods, replacement cost approach and income approach, are rarely used for residential property. The most common method of fixing value is the comparison method. In using this method, the appraiser compiles a list of similar properties recently sold. The appraiser adjusts the value of each comparable property to reflect differences in amenities, locations, and overall size.
Once these adjustments are made, the appraiser develops an opinion on value and prepares an appraisal report. A copy of the report is given to the client who ordered the appraisal and the court. The report may help the parties agree to value or be used as an exhibit if the case comes to trial. The appraisal can be regarded as both professional and objective in any event.
Having a professional appraisal in hand means that the divorcing spouses will not engage in subjective arguments about the value of their assets. With the help of an experienced divorce attorney, the appraisal will help the couple reach an agreement on the value of their assets.