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What might a property division agreement look like?

There's a lot to be said for organization. As we noted in a recent post, getting organized is a crucial part of striking a balance between too much and too little stress – finding just the right amount of equilibrium to feel that things are just right.

The context of that post had to do with division of property, especially as might be required in divorce when complex assets are involved. Somehow, the division needs to be equitable and take into account that certain items are community property. You can't divide a piano in half, so dollar value needs to be assigned. Whoever doesn't get the piano might be entitled to a certain cash equivalency.

In that previous post, we referred to a sample checklist to help inventory real property. But once that's been done, it needs to be crafted into a proposal for division. What should one look like?

Experience teaches that one section of the agreement should speak to basic preliminary matters – that the couple was once married and now is living apart. Another clause should affirm that both parties have had the benefit of legal counsel about their rights and that they agree the terms of the settlement reflect a fair and accurate accounting of all financial issues. Yet another clause could speak to how future disputes should be handled.

A separate section might focus on considerations related to the couple's home. It might declare that one or the other of the parties will take possession of the home. Alternatively, it might state that the home is to be sold and any equity equitably divided.

Referring back to the inventory checklist, another section of the agreement could detail how specific pieces of furniture, clothing, computers, art or collections are to be divided. Motor vehicles, retirement accounts and other assets may be of such a value that they deserve their own sections.

At the end, there should be places for the parties to sign and date the document. There should also be spots for witness or counsel signatures and a place for a Notary Public's stamp.

Generic documents may be inexpensive and convenient, but with all that's at stake, does it make sense to risk that a template form might be deemed unacceptable by the court?

Source: FindLaw, "Sample Form: Property Settlement Agreement," accessed July 20, 2016

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