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Property Values Explained – How and What You Need

The article provides details on typical information needed for calculation of net family property.  If you are simply looking for a checklist, see my article titled “A Checklist (Only) of Asset Values Required for Equalization.”  The information collected will usually need to be listed on P.E.I. court Form 70L “Net Family Property Statement” and/or Form 70I “Financial Statement”.  Other provinces will have similar forms.   This is meant as a checklist of information, including descriptive information to help you understand the requirements, which can be complex and time consuming to prepare. However, this list varies by individual circumstance and may not be all-inclusive or appropriate in all situations. You should rely on your Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist (CFDS) or a financial advisor trained in family law for your specific requirements. This listing has been prepared from a financial accounting perspective, not from the legal aspect. Additional information will be required by your legal counsel or by the courts, and you should seek legal counsel to determine such needs. Where you have questions about any of the matters discussed below, you should contact your legal counsel. We will be pleased to work with your legal counsel to assist in collection of required financial information and to direct you to the appropriate advisors for valuations and supplemental information. In addition, you should note that your current income and expected retirement income will need to be estimated in order to assess a reasonable tax rate. Your assets need to be discounted at a reasonable tax rate for fair allocation – for example, the money available to you from an RRSP or a pension plan will be reduced by income taxes before it is available to you to spend. Note that the same information is required at date of marriage and at the date of separation, unless otherwise noted. In addition, where tax issues may arise, the cost of the property for tax purposes is required in addition to the value at the date of separation. If the financial statements required as part of court documentation has been prepared already, this document will provide the information needed, i.e. Form 70 I and Form 70 L. For all assets and liabilities, ownership should be set out so that the amount allocated to each spouse can be identified. For example, if legal title is 50/50 for assets and liabilities, allocate one-half to each spouse. Typically, the information required includes the following. Note that “value” is the amount that you can obtain for the asset if you sold it to an unrelated third party. Where applicable, the same information is required for both the date of separation and the date of marriage. Where can you get help with valuations? See my topic titled Finding Asset Values on my Useful Links page here.

Assets

  • Family home – address and value at date of separation; if land is more than 1 acre, the cost for the land and the valuation of the land in excess of 1 acre should be provided. You may wish to hire a real estate appraiser to obtain accurate amounts, unless both parties agree on fair value. In addition, if you also own a second home, such as a cottage, then the cost of the family home should also be provided in order to determine which property shall be used for the capital gains principal residence exemption. In these circumstances, the date of purchase of the family property should also be provided.
  • Cottage or additional residences – the date of purchase, address, total cost, including renovations, and the value at date of marriage and also at date of separation; again, a real estate appraiser may be required. Where you do not know the cost, provide a reliable estimate. For example, you may have bought land and constructed the cottage yourself, without retaining receipts, etc. In such a case, combine the cost of land, materials and purchased labour (exclude your own) to provide the total cost.
  • Land – the address or property identification number, date of purchase, total costs (including legal fees and disbursements to purchase it but not subsequent costs of property taxes or loan interest) and fair values.
  • Household items, jewelry, collections, and other such assets – provide values by major category; costs are only required for items such as collections, antiques, art and jewelry where values have increased since the date of purchase.
  • Automobiles and recreational vehicles – provide fair values listed by vehicle year and description.
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plans and defined contribution pension plans – Defined contribution pension plans are similar to Registered Retirement Savings Plans because the employee and the employer invest specified amounts and the final pension will be subject to investment performance. You would receive regular account statements showing the value of the investment balances. The balance of the RRSP and the pension account at date of separation (and also date of marriage) is required, and is typically available from monthly broker statements or directly from your investment advisor. If investment balances are fluctuating significantly, a valuation on the specific date rather than month-end would be best. A spousal RRSP should be listed as owned by the person who is entitled to withdraw the money, i.e. the spouse of the contributor.
  • Pensions – for defined benefit pension plans, which are pensions, such as a civil service pension or company pensions that pay a guaranteed monthly income in retirement based on your past wages – an actuarial valuation is usually required. While pension administrators will often provide a pension valuation, such valuations are usually not the appropriate value for use in separation and divorce calculations. An actuary may determine a fair value, which is significantly different, and which may often be higher than the calculation by the pension administrator due to factors such as inflation protection, guarantees, current age, expected age of retirement, future salary increases before retirement and life expectancy.
  • Savings and investments – the market value of your savings and investment accounts, including stocks, bonds, term deposits, mutual funds, savings and chequing accounts, etc. For securities that pay interest, accumulated interest earned to the date of separation should be provided, or, at least provide the interest rate, date of purchase, purchase amount and frequency of interest payment to allow it to be calculated. You banker or investment advisor may be able to provide you with a list, including the needed details, as of your separation date. In addition, the tax cost for any mutual funds, stock market investments and other securities that have increased in value should be provided to allow calculation of taxes.
  • Life insurance – face value (i.e. the death benefit) and the cash surrender value (i.e. the amount available if you cancelled the policy) of any life insurance policies; Note that details of all life insurance and disability policies may be required for other matters related to your separation.
  • Critical illness, long-term care, group insurance plans – details of such plans should be provided. Note any policies where there is a “Return of Premium” option, which is a refund made to you if you have no claims for a certain length of time.
  • Accounts receivable and loans receivable – all amounts owed to you on the valuation date, including income tax refunds, personal loans to other people and other rebates that may be receivable. If you are owed money, but collection is doubtful, note this on your summary.
  • Employment entitlements – report the value of any (a) vacation pay; (b) sick pay accrued that will be paid to you upon retirement or termination; (c) accumulated retiring allowances or termination pay that will be paid at retirement. For example, if you are entitled by your employment contract to receive one week of pay for each year of service, determine the number of years of service to your separation date and multiply it by your weekly gross pay at that date; (e) lieu time for police officers; (f) employee savings plans or deferred profit sharing plans; (g) accrued sabbatical leave; (h) stock options held; and, (i) amounts owing for Workers’ Compensation claims, disability pensions or medical benefits.
  • Business interests – whether incorporated or unincorporated, the market value of any business owned by you (your proportionate share) is required. A Chartered Business Valuator may be required to assess the value of the business unless both parties can agree to an alternative approach or a fair value. If you do not have a valuation, provide the annual financial statements for five years up to and including the year of separation (or for as many years as the company has operated). For a corporation, you should also provide the corporation tax return for the year of separation. Along with these financial statements, set out the wages or other fees that were deducted each year in the business financial statements for payments to owners and family members, together with details of any other benefits for these individuals, such as personal use of company vehicles, group insurance premiums paid by the company, etc.
  • Loyalty point programs – such as Aeroplan, Air Miles, etc. if significant balances exist.
  • All other assets, which may not be listed above.

You should segregate the amount of any inheritances and insurance settlements or legal awards for damages that are included in the above figures, if they can be separately identified. In addition, any amounts that are exempted by marriage contract should be identified separately.

Liabilities

Provide a list of all liabilities, including loans, lines of credit, mortgages, credit cards, unpaid bills and other debts. Where the liability relates to a specific asset, such as a car loan, identify the asset to which it relates. Also list all guarantees and loans for which you may be a co-signer, and identify the nature of such liabilities.

Other

In order to determine an appropriate income tax rate to apply to certain assets, it would be useful to have an estimate of your retirement income. If you can provide an estimate of your total retirement income, or details of the types of income you will receive your retirement, this will assist in such calculations.

Blair Corkum, CPA, CA, R.F.P., CFP, CFDS, CLU, CHS holds his Chartered Professional Accountant, Chartered Accountant, Registered Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist as well as several other financial planning related designations. Blair offers hourly based fee-only personal financial planning, holds no investment or insurance licenses, and receives no commissions or referral fees. This publication should not be construed as legal or investment advice. It is neither a definitive analysis of the law nor a substitute for professional advice which you should obtain before acting on information in this article. Information may change as a result of legislation or regulations issued after this article was written.©Blair Corkum