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Dividing up the silverware: A new way to handle the little things

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2018 | Property Division |

There are two types of attorneys who are confronted with little things that mean a lot: the lawyers who handle estates and those who handle divorces.

Both types generally find it easier to divide up complicated investments and stock portfolios than they do dividing up the little, but sentimental, objects of ordinary life.

In the old days, the best solution anyone could come up with was letting each person pick one item at a time. If anybody doubt how contentious and time-consuming that could be, there’s an infamous case involving a couple who had to pay attorney fees and court fees to split their Beanie Baby collection up under a judge’s supervision.

Well, there may be a new way to handle property division that makes it easier to handle for those who don’t want an acrimonious confrontation with their ex-spouses (or, in the case of those dividing an estate, their siblings and other relatives).

The system also makes it harder for people to play mind games with each other over sentimental but financially-insignificant objects. When there’s animosity between two people, just knowing that one person wants something very badly can cause the other to make keeping that item a priority.

Using new software developed by people who have been through such travails, divorcing couples or heirs can pick items that are in dispute using a point system to “bid” for them. The value of each item is also tracked, to make certain that the end result is financially fair as well.

Because the bidding is done blind, there’s no way to tell what the other person is wanting the most — so it eliminates any ability for revenge bidding.

While designed with estates in mind, tools like these can also be turned to use in divorce cases where the couple has a significant shared collection of art, jewelry, statuary, books vintage items or — naturally — Beanie Babies.

An equitable division of property is never easy in a divorce, but it may have just gotten a little bit easier, thanks to help from some creative minds and modern technology.

Source: The New York Times, “When Dividing Assets, the Little Things Matter,” Paul Sullivan, accessed Jan. 12, 2018


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