The matrimonial property schedule is a summary of the net assets (assets less liabilities less any assets that are exempt from division) of each spouse required to allow for the division of said net assets upon marital dissolution. Typically, this takes the form of an Excel schedule.
In our view, there are some challenges with Excel and spreadsheets in general. Those challenges include:
Potential formula errors or inadvertent exclusion of rows in formulas.
Potential overwriting of formulas with inputted amounts.
Potential inadvertent exclusion of assets from latent / contingent income tax calculations.
Because the MPS spreadsheet combines the data input with the presentation of the data, there are limitations in how the MPS / data can be presented.
At Jones & Lamb LLP, in most cases, we use data science tools instead of spreadsheets. The use of these data science and programmatic tools allows for the creation of web applications for more robust and creative expressions of tasks that are typically performed via spreadsheet.
An example of this is our creation of a Matrimonial Property Schedule web application that allows for:
Standardized data input forms that are not susceptible to ‘breaking’ in the same way that spreadsheets are (e.g. How many times have we seen spreadsheets with shaded cells that are deemed to be ‘input’ cells and all other cells are discouraged from being changed … and those other cells inevitably get changed …).
Easy access to lookups for incremental income tax rates and more advanced (if you choose) calculations related to contingent taxes on pre-tax assets or assets with trapped-in capital gains.
The data can be presented in multiple ways (e.g. visual as well as in table format) and with more advanced filtering and sorting (e.g. to assist in reviewing the MPS and ensuring the completeness of the inputted data).
Comparison of versions of MPS schedules.
We recognize that everyone may not speak ‘spreadsheet’ and visuals can be a powerful way to communicate information.
Below is an excerpt of our MPS web application illustrating equalization and visual depiction of each spouse’s net assets after equalization.