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Considering art assets upon divorce

For art enthusiasts in Pennsylvania, art pieces are valuable assets that must be collected. For a spouse whose livelihood depends on the extraordinary and colorful creations, the masterpieces are like properties that should be preserved and appreciated. But what will happen to those art assets in the event of a high-asset divorce? Will they remain the sole property of the artist? Or are they treated similarly to any other assets that can be divided between the spouses?

In Pennsylvania, marital property includes assets that are obtained during the marriage. Marital property is subject to property division during a divorce, in which one spouse can claim a share of the assets of the other spouse, provided that those assets were acquired when they are still married. And marital property might include art as well. According to a source, art assets, such as paintings, sculptures and pottery, can be considered marital property. The marital property rule may apply, even if one spouse is the creator of the artwork. This means that the art asset, together with the physical objects and future revenue of that property, can be divided between the spouses. However, there is an exception. Just like properties that were acquired prior to the marriage, artwork that was created before the marriage can be considered separate property. The same rule applies to future revenues, commissions and licensing agreements for the artwork.

When determining which art assets are marital and which are considered separate property, spouses should have a list of all of the artwork that has been created, which pieces were made prior to the marriage and which were created during the marriage, including the profit from any sale. For unsold pieces, identifying the current and accurate market value of the artwork through evaluation and appraisal is a wise idea, particularly if that particular state follows the theory of equitable property distribution.

Every asset and property involved in property division must be properly assessed and considered. In this manner, spouses may avoid discarding valuable pieces of property that may cost them a fortune.

Source: The Huffington Post, "For Artists, Divorce Means Splitting Up the (Art) Assets", Daniel Grant, March 3, 2015

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