Proper asset valuation crucial in high net worth Tennessee divorce

Ballparking the value of unique or complex property in a divorce of wealth is not a good idea.

When a couple decides to divorce, sometimes in the rush to start new lives and leave the difficulty of a marriage that is over, people want to hurry through the divorce process, including negotiations to a settlement agreement. But when the couple has amassed sizable wealth, the parties and their attorneys must take care to carefully inventory their marital estate and assign proper value to each asset.

Take for example the well-known ongoing dispute between real estate tycoon Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda Macklowe, whose extensive art collection is valued at over $1 billion, division of which was left for after the divorce decree was entered. According to an extensive article in The New York Times, the collection includes over 150 pieces, including those by Picasso, Warhol, Jeff Koons, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.

The Times describes how the Macklowes each hired their own expert art appraisers to value the collection, but the experts disagreed on amounts. The wife wanted to keep some of the collection, but because they could not reach agreement over related tax issues should she sell off pieces, the judge will appoint a receiver to oversee a sale of the collection.

Similar issues can happen in Tennessee high net worth divorces. Some of the assets that may be difficult to value because of subjectivity of value - as in artwork or antiques - or complexity in the nature of the asset - such as in complicated financial investments or foreign real estate or other holdings - are as follows:

  • Collectible classic cars
  • Yachts and other boats
  • Antique furniture and other collectibles
  • Vintage and modern jewelry
  • Artwork
  • Executive perks
  • Retirement accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Vacation homes and time shares
  • Commercial and residential real estate and other real estate interests
  • Shares in professional partnerships, business partnerships or LLCs
  • ESOPs and deferred compensation plans
  • Family businesses
  • Joint ventures
  • Horses and livestock
  • Agricultural interests and farms
  • And others

If the parties can agree on jointly hiring experts to appraise or evaluate assets, that may prevent a costly court battle. Keeping the divorce out of court has an additional advantage: privacy. If they can agree on value, they may be able to negotiate a division, whether it means that they will keep some assets and sell others and divide the proceeds.

Types of necessary experts may include:

  • Art or antique appraisers and auctioneers
  • Real estate brokers
  • Jewelers
  • Business experts
  • Dealers in antiques, vintage cars or boats or other collectible items
  • Accountants and other financial experts
  • International asset experts
  • And others

A lawyer with experience in evaluation of complex and high net worth assets can provide guidance and representation in such a divorce.

At The Law Office of Jeffrey Jones in Bartlett, attorney Jeffrey H. Jones represents divorcing spouses in high net worth divorces throughout the greater Memphis area.