Divorcing? Here’s How to Handle Your Wine Collection
Are you getting a divorce and own a valuable wine collection? Many challenges arise whenever a divorcing couple has a valuable wine collection. The first challenge is how to physically handle it, to not destroy the taste of the wine nor damage the labels. The second challenge is how to determine its fair market value. The third challenge is how to equitably dispose of it. This blog will cover all three.
How to handle your wine collection.
Assuming that your wine collection is currently held in a safe, stable environment, such as a temperature controlled wine cellar, the best thing to do is leave it in place until your divorce is final and your collection’s ownership is established. All too often, one member of a couple decides to remove a few or many bottles from the house, along with their other possessions. The problem with removing the wine is that it can be damaged, both its flavor and pristine label, enroute or while in a new location.
Few things can destroy the taste of wine as much as being stored in the trunk of a car. Similarly, a bottle label can be marred or torn through mishandling. If any of the moved wine is damaged, it will be very hard to ascertain if the damage happened while moving it to the new location, or in its old location. The person who moved it can be held liable for its resultant lower value.
How to value your collection.
When a couple wishes to determine a fair market price for their marital real estate, they call in a real estate appraiser. Similarly, you may want to hire a wine appraiser to help you determine the value of your wine collection. A wine appraiser will look at each bottle’s vintage, condition and availability to determine its fair market value. Along with your physical bottles of wine, you may own wine futures. You may also own memberships in exclusive wine clubs. An experienced wine appraiser can determine the fair value of your bottles of wine, wine futures and wine club memberships.
How do you find a reputable wine appraiser? Your divorce attorney should be able to do the research for you and make a referral.
How to equitably dispose of your collection.
Once you have established a fair market value for your wine collection and wine club memberships, you will be ready to dispose of it. Just like dividing marital real estate, there are several ways you can proceed.
- You can divide the collection, based on the appraised value of each bottle, future or club membership.
- One of you may decide to purchase the collection, providing fair compensation to the other.
- You can agree to sell the collection and divide the proceeds.
- You can decide to wait to sell the collection or parts of it (for example, the wine futures) if you believe it will increase in value in the future. Be forewarned, however, if you choose this option that your soon-to-be-ex may disagree with your desired timing.
Whatever your disposition decision, be sure to get it legally recorded as part of your marital settlement agreement, so that your intentions are clear.
Contact me for assistance
If you are getting a divorce and have high-value assets, such as a wine collection, please contact my office for a consultation. As a San Francisco Bay Area family law attorney who also holds a Master of Laws in Taxation, I have worked with many individuals like you and can represent your interests in the most complex of financial situations.
Attorney Christina Sherman is a Marin County CA family law attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist, specializing in divorce, child custody and support, marital contracts and other family law issues.
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