Deciding what to do with a valuable wine collection during divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Property Division

luxury wine cellar in a home

Dividing property in divorce when there are significant and complex assets at stake can be a challenge. Some of these assets may have a sentimental component, which can make them even more challenging to split or give up in exchange for something else.

Take a wine collection. Maybe you and your spouse have spent years – and a lot of money – amassing an enviable collection. You may have wine from every overseas vacation you’ve taken together or from regular trips up the coast to visit assorted wineries. How can you deal with the wine collection as you divorce in ways that are fair and further your broader property division goals?

Determining the value

Whether only one of you wants to keep it, you want to split it or you decide to part with it and keep the money, you’ll first need to get an accurate valuation. There are a number of places you can go to for that. These include vintage wine retailers and auction houses. If you don’t want to put in the time to do that, there are online databases. That might be a good place to start, but if your collection is worth a considerable amount, you may want to deal one-on-one with a certified expert. There’s also a chance it may not be worth nearly what you thought.

If you’re going to divide the collection, you’ll need an individual valuation of each bottle. If only one of you is keeping it and giving the other something of equivalent value or you’re selling it as a whole, a total valuation may be sufficient.

Another factor to consider if one or both of you is keeping any of it is whether you have the appropriate storage area for it. You likely have a wine cellar in your home, but will you have one in your new home if you’re the one moving out?

Whatever decision you make (or, if you can’t agree, you ask a judge to make), it’s important not to underestimate the potential financial value of this asset. The same holds true for other collections and other unique assets. Having experienced legal guidance for your high-asset divorce will help you work toward getting a fair settlement.