During the divorce process, parties may have to prepare and file what is called an “inventory and appraisement.” An inventory and appraisement (I&A) is, essentially, a list of all real and personal property as well as all debts and liabilities claimed by each spouse. The I&A list may be filed with the court and its purpose is to assist the court in making a just and right division of the marital estate. Depending on the local rules of the county in which the case is filed, sometimes the I&A is not filed with the court and is exchanged between the parties or their attorneys. In those cases, the I&A is still helpful in determining what constitutes a just and right division of the marital estate because it is used to help the parties and their attorneys put together a proposal for how the property should be divided.
Each party prepares their own separate I&A, which should include a list of both parties’ property and debts. So, for example, Spouse A will prepare and their own I&A, but that I&A should identify all property owned by Spouse A as well as that owned by Spouse B. Property to be identified in the I&A includes all real property, checking accounts, saving accounts, vehicles, stocks, retirement accounts, etc. The I&A should also include characterizations for all property and debts listed (i.e., whether each listed property or debt is separate or community). Note: please see our blog post on characterization for more information about how property is determined to be separate or community property and what those designations mean.
The I&A should also include a value for each item listed. Parties will often exchange bank statements, deeds, contracts, or any other such documentation which supports the I&A. Valuing the property identified in the I&A is a key component of preparing the I&A – without appropriate and correct values, a court cannot make a just and right division of property upon divorce. If a party is unsure of a value for their property, it is critical to do research to attain a value or, when necessary and applicable, to hire a valuation expert to assist in the valuation process.
If you or your spouse are considering a divorce and you are concerned about the division of your property, please contact us for more information.