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Don't overlook intangibles when dividing property in a divorce

When we think of dividing property in a divorce, we typically think of tangible things.

The cars. The house. The dining room table. Even the video games.

But there are intangibles too. Who, for instance, gets the rewards points that have accrued on your credit card account?

That isn't as easy as saying, "You take the chairs, I'll take the china."

You'll want to tell your attorney about the points as you are compiling your list of assets to divide. That might seem insignificant, but in case the rewards points can be turned into cash, goods or services worth thousands, it's worth it.

Still, rewards points can be difficult to sort through. Each program has rules you might need to navigate.

If you have had the credit card since before you were married and earned all of them then, too, the points and subsequent rewards likely belong to you. But if you have been charging away since your marriage, your spouse likely has a claim at some or all of the awards – even if the account never was put into both of your names.

"If the rewards were earned during the marriage, regardless of who earned them, they're going to be considered marital property," one certified financial planner said. "The only exception I can think of would be if a business had a credit card and the business used those rewards to offset expenses as part of the business."

Start by assigning a value to them. If, for instance, your rewards program will convert 50,000 points into $500 gift cards, that makes each point worth a penny. From there, you could consider the points worth $500 and add them into your joint assets.

You wouldn't forget to add a savings account worth $500, so the same consideration should apply to rewards points.

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