Active Versus Passive Appreciation

Mar 23, 2015

When Jed Clampett went to shoot at a critter, he missed his target but tapped into an oil gusher. Old Jed, the lead character in TV’s “The Beverly Hillbillies,” got rich and moved to the land of swimming pools and movie stars. The “Jed Clampett defense” is what some court pundits are calling the position an oil billionaire took in his recent divorce case, according to an article in The New York Times. The defense is based on the “active versus passive appreciation” concept in divorce law.

divorce valuationLuck versus skill: In some states, if a spouse owns an asset before the marriage, the increase in value of that asset is not subject to division if the increase was due to “passive” appreciation, that is, if the asset’s value increases due to factors outside of either spouse’s control. But if the value increases due to the efforts or skills of a spouse, it is considered “active” and is thus subject to division in a divorce. So the question comes down to luck versus skill.

If this correlates with you, make sure you discuss “active versus passive appreciation” with your attorney and valuator. Depending on the state your case is in, this could have a large impact on your financial outcome.

By: Ryan Leininger, CPA, CVA

Categories: Uncategorized