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Monthly Archives: April 2014

College Expenses – How Courts Interpret Divorce Agreements

One of the most important aspects of a divorce settlement is the drafting of a settlement agreement.  The parties may come to an agreement, in general terms, about how much child support will be paid, and what a visitation schedule will be.  However, unless an agreement is very carefully drafted, there can be future disagreements, and expensive litigation. A case before the Appellate Division in New York recently illustrated the point.  In Matter of Apjohn v. Lubinski, 2014 Westlaw 641870 (3d Dept. Feb. 20, 2014), the parties disagreed as to what the father was required to pay for their son’s college expenses.  Their 1994 divorce agreement said that the father was to pay “an amount not to exceed half of the cost of tuition, room and board at a SUNY college or university,” and that the child was required to apply to “the said college or university” for all possible

NYS Estate Tax Changes: The Good News, and the Bad News

As of April 1st New York state doubled its estate tax exemption – the amount you can leave your heirs without paying state estate tax – and it is set to rise gradually through 2019 to eventually match the federal exemption, projected by then to be $5.9 million.  That will make estate tax planning much easier for many people, but there are still big traps in the new law to watch out for. One such trap in New York is a new “cliff,” so called because if it is triggered you fall into NY’s estate tax abyss. Until April 1, 2014 the amount an individual could leave to their heirs (other than a spouse) without owing NYS estate tax was $1 million.  Your estate would then pay NYS estate tax (to a 16% top rate) on the value of your assets which exceed $1 million.  As of April 1, 2014 the

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