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Inventory & Appraisement (Part 2)

KC Ashmore here, we're talking about inventory and appraisement and what that means it applies to Texas Family Law cases & original suits for divorce.

I'm going to break this down in this video series about what it is why you need to do it and how it can be helpful. So, an inventory an appraisement is a sworn document which means it's good as testimony, because you're taking an oath and saying everything I put in there is true and correct so help me God under penalty of perjury, I can be held in contempt if i am evasive or deceitful on that document. So you know i'm going to defy, I like defining things because I think there's too much jargon in our world and words matter you know, words carry significance, they can be weapons, and to have the tools you need to understand what you're facing, you need to understand the definition. So a sworn inventory and appraisement is a method for discovering assets and liabilities in an original suit for divorce where the spouses have assets and then they have to define the character of those assets.

  • Something you had before the marriage

  • Life policies or retirement

  • Homes & cars

Any of these things mean it's your complete separate property, right and then all of the things that were acquired or increased in value during the marriage, those would be characterized as community property and then a list of all liabilities. It's a list really, I mean in its simplest terms it is a list of real and personal property debts and liabilities sworn to under penalty of perjury and exchanged between the spouses, so it can be done by agreement and in most cases it is especially when the spouses have been married for a while and there's significant inventory and they need to know what each other have or don't have in their estates, because what you're starting to do is you take the entirety of the marital estate and you're going to do a just right division.

Now Texas has a community property presumption which means:

everything acquired accumulated during a marriage has a presumption that it is a community asset

This means it's owned equally by the husband and wife, by the spouses and that has to be rebutted with evidence one of the ways to challenge that presumption. That's what rebuttal means, to challenge that presumption that it's jointly owned, is through a sworn inventory and appraisement. It's not absolutely necessary to do one but it's a damn good idea and it's essentially building a big list of these three areas:

  • how many cars, boats, motorcycles, rvs

  • how many pieces of real estate sometimes it's just the one the the home that the spouses live in but sometimes it's more, sometimes they have a second home, sometimes there's a situation where people have married a long time you know they they have accumulated more assets they have a piece of land out in west Texas where they hunt and there's a cabin and a second home on it or sometimes there's a sailboat that's used as a second home what have you you know a getaway in a place like you know Tampa Florida or Ybor City or Miami

  • debts, the mortgages, the credit cards, the health and all other debts that were accumulated during the course of marriage.

This list is critical because it helps spouses make informed decisions about property divisions, decisions that they need to make, so that they can come to an agreement if possible about how they're going to divide their marital assets and without court intervention , come to their own division of the marital estate. So this is a critical tool in the toolbox of the family law case to put the clients in control, put put yourself in control of what is that just and right division going to look like.

The first thing you have to have is the information from each other, complete transparency, because it's foreign to remember and more often than not the secrecy regarding assets is penalized quite harshly. I've only ever seen that one time and that was many many years ago and there was an offshore bank account and it was supposed to have been disclosed in an inventory an appraisement it wasn't and there were some stiff consequences you know basically the award of that entire amount of money that was discovered after the sworn inventory and even after the divorce was carved out from the person who did the covering up and taken away from them entirely, including all increases, and given to the innocent spouse who discovered it later after the fact. But that means you have to exercise your rights one of the ways you do that is by either exchanging either through court order or by agreement or just regular plain old discovery.

More on inventory and appraisement, coming up next!

As always thanks for reading and watching our corresponding video series here:



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