A primary component in a divorce is the division of assets and liabilities. At the outset of a divorce, one of the first documents an attorney will assign a client to complete is a lengthy Inventory and Appraisement, or “I & A” for short. The purpose of this document is for the client to verify each and every asset and liability a party has, whether it is separate property, community property, or some type of liability.
The I & A asks for a list of the following types of items with current balances if applicable:
- Recent bank statements from every joint and individually held bank account (savings and checking) whether in your name or the other party’s name
- Recent credit card statements from every joint and individually held account
- Recent statements for every type of retirement account either party maintains (401(k), pensions, IRA’s, etc.)
- All recent statements of brokerage accounts, CD’s, mutual funds or other investment portfolios not considered retirement accounts
- Itemized list of real property inside the marital residence (furniture, artwork, china, etc.)
- All vehicles (cars, boats, motorcycles, trailers, tractors, etc.)
- Land (farmland, commercial land, residential land)
- Investment properties (rental homes, condominiums, etc.)
The above is just a list of common items listed in an I & A and is not meant to be a comprehensive list. Initially the divorcing party may not know of every item or account that exists, but it is important to list out as much as possible. Depending on the complexity of assets and liabilities, and whether discovery is conducted to gain all the information from the other party, the initial draft of the I & A will most likely not reflect the total inventory of property and liabilities. Towards the end of the divorce process and prior to trial or mediation, each party must swear to his/her I & A and provide all the supporting documents for every item listed. The I & A’s are then utilized to create a division of property to finalize the division of assets in the divorce. Therefore, it is critical to work on this document from the inception of the divorce to its finalization. The quick completion of the I & A and supporting documents will save on legal costs, and any delays in finalizing the I & A can result in increased costs and penalties.