Dear Tom and Ray:
My fiance is an auto mechanic working at a dealership. He owns his tools. Now, here's the rub: His current marriage has not yet been dissolved, as they say, and his soon-to-be ex is claiming an excessively high value for his tools. I understand that they should be valued at fair market value, and not replacement cost. Do you guys have any suggestions for him on how he can accurately value the tools? - Julie
TOM: So she's claiming the tools are worth, say, $100,000. And she wants him to give her $50,000, right?
RAY: Right. And he's convinced the tools are worth less than that. Plus, he doesn't HAVE 50 grand.
TOM: So, where do you get a realistic appraisal for the tools? Well, the fair market value of the tools is what someone is willing to pay for them. So what you have to do is go online and find out what a similar collection of tools is selling for, including the toolbox.
RAY: You won't be able to make an exact comparison, since every collection of tools is different, but by finding several comparable tool sets for sale, you can home in on a ballpark estimate of what they're worth, and have some documented evidence to support your claim. And remember, those are asking prices. What the tools actually sell for could be somewhat less.
TOM: The other option is to ask a knowledgeable tool seller to make an assessment for you. If the tools are Matco, for instance, your fiance can ask his Matco representative to give him a formal, written assessment of what he thinks the tools are worth today on the retail market.
RAY: And because we know (and she knows) you'll be slipping him a C-note to lowball the value, you can invite the soon-to-be ex to have another tool dealer of her choice do an independent assessment for her. If the two numbers are within reason, you can average them, and voila!
TOM: If you can't come to a reasonable agreement on what the tools are worth, and the soon-to-be ex continues to insist they're worth, say, $100,000, and you're convinced that's crazy, then you can always say to her, "OK, you take the tools and write ME a check for 50 grand." Then you can go the Internet a week later and offer her 50 grand for them. Good luck, Julie.
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