The Latest News April 2014


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Posted On: April 28, 2014

New York State recently made sweeping changes to its estate tax laws.

There has been an increase to the “exclusion amount” for state residents dying on or after April 1, 2014. The new exclusion amount will be $2,062,500. This exclusion amount will also increase annually as follows: April 1, 2015 – $3,125,000; April 1, 2016 – $4,187,500; April 1, 2017 – $5,125,000.

In 2019, specifically January 1, 2019, the NY State exclusion amount will follow the Federal exclusion amount. Currently the Federal exclusion amount is $5,340,000. The Federal exclusion amount is also indexed for inflation.

These new changes have also closed a loophole. Previously certain trusts avoided New York State income tax when they were established by New York residents but the trustees and the assets were located outside New York. This is no longer the case.

Further Gifts made after April 1, 2014 but made within 3 years of death are now added to the taxable estate. However Gifts made on or after January 1, 2019 will not be added to the taxable estate.

If you need help in this area or have questions feel free contact attorney SPIRIO at 631-277-8844.


Protecting Children in Separations and Divorce

Posted On: April 11, 2014

According to the US Census Bureau, couples marrying today have a 50% chance of their marriage ending in divorce. Many of these marriages are between parents and 40% of children will be affected by divorce before reaching adulthood.

When couples with children divorce, their first priority is often the well-being of the children. Sometimes, unhappy couples even choose to stay together because they believe it is the best thing for their children. When a separation or divorce is the best option for the family, effort should be made to protect the most vulnerable members of the family. What can you do to protect your children when you separate from or divorce your partner?

Transition Phase
The process of divorce is stressful for the entire family, but it can be easier if it is handled well. Couples have the option of working together to alter their existing relationship. The inclination during a divorce is to “get rid of your partner” or pay him or her back for any perceived wrongs. Unfortunately, especially for the children, this causes more harm than good in the long run.

During your divorce or separation, do your best to protect your children by working with your soon-to-be-ex to devise an arrangement that is best for everyone. Try to be fair and try not to let your emotional wounds affect your child’s relationship with his or her parent. When possible, avoid a lengthy legal battle. Children should never be used by one parent against the other to address a wrong or as leverage for results in a separation or divorce. This is extremely harmful to the child and often is never successful in obtaining a resolution to the matter.

Family counseling and counseling for the children is highly recommended. Making sure children have the support system and resources available to them to navigate this life changing transition is extremely important.

Custody and Visitation
Protecting your child from harm should be your first priority. If your soon-to-be-former partner has behaved in a manner that put your child at risk, you have every right to protect your child in the future. However, there is a difference between a child being at risk and a child spending time with someone whom you are upset or angry with. Just because your partner hurt you should not mean your child will benefit from estrangement from his or her parent.

Working together to create a custody or visitation arrangement that helps your child feel comfortable and supported is the healthiest type of transition for a child. If he or she is old enough to discuss custody or visitation, take his or her feelings into account when creating an arrangement. Ideally, children will feel just as loved and supported after a separation or divorce as they did when the family was intact.

Finally, speak with your child about responsibility. It is important for children to understand they did nothing to cause the break up of the family.

No matter your personal situation, your children should be protected from the changes in your relationship with your significant other. Working with an experienced family lawyer helps you transition to separation or divorce with as little turmoil as possible. Share your concerns about your child’s safety and well-being with your attorney and he or she can help you determine the steps to take to protect your child.

If you need help in this area or have questions feel free contact attorney SPIRIO at 631-277-8844.


Small Business and the Pitfalls of Not Collecting Your Receivables: How Best to Protect and Collect Your Outstanding Receivables

Posted On: April 07, 2014

The Internal Revenue Service estimates that about 99% of all businesses in the United States are “small,” with fewer than 500 employees. There are approximately 30 million businesses with fewer than 10 employees, making small business one of the driving forces of the United States economy. Unfortunately, at one time or another, nearly every one of these businesses has likely dealt with collections issues.

It can be tough for small business owners to deal with debt collection because they do not have the same resources available as do large corporations. Unfortunately, this often results in small business owners giving up and not pursuing receivables to which they are entitled. There are ways to protect and collect these receivables without it taking up significant time and resources, but you first need to understand legal debt collection.

Having a written contract, Invoice or memorandum of the transaction is important
Having a written contract is important. A written contract makes enforcement of the debt easier. Including a provision in your contract or invoice for recovery of interest, collection costs and attorney fees can be extremely important to your bottom line when choosing to pursue outstanding receivables. Especially in states like New York where recovery of these additional costs must be in writing. Adding the costs of collections to the original debt can make recovery of outstanding receivables more profitable for your business.

Older Accounts are More Difficult to Collect
The longer a debt goes unpaid the more difficult it is to collect. However, certain debts typically take longer to recover than others even when there is no problem. Government accounts and medical accounts typically take anywhere from 60 to 90 days to receive payment, so as a small business owner faced with either situation, you can hold off on contacting a collection agency or taking legal action in these cases.

One of the biggest challenges faced by small businesses is their lack of an official collections department. The business’s accounts receivable clerk is also its collector, which means collections are not their only priority. Sometimes, local credit bureaus offer free support for small business, but this is not always the case and might ultimately not be that much more efficient than just muddling through.

Many times handing your matter over to a collection attorney sooner will enable a debt to be collected before it becomes truly uncollectible.

Another problem small businesses sometimes have when it comes to collecting receivables is not understanding their state’s Check Law. Before accepting checks as payment and before pursuing an unpaid account, be sure you understand your state’s laws governing the procedures for accepting checks.

Establish a System
If you are looking for a simple, organized method with which to deal with collecting receivables, put the following procedure into place:

  • At 30 and 60 days past due, send out past due payment notices. In addition to written notice, phone calls should also be placed.
  • If no arrangements are made for payment by 90 days past due, you can send out a pre-collect notice with various options. This tells the debtor you are flexible, but that further legal action should be expected soon if the account is not settled.
  • If there is still no action, you can either turn the account over to a collection Attorney or take the account to court yourself. Pursuing a debt through litigation can be time consuming, but it is often the best way to recover what is due to your business. Using an experienced attorney will also reduce the time you will need to spend on trying to collect the debt

    If you are struggling with collection of receivables or you have questions concerning your rights as a small business owner, contact an attorney that specializes in debt recovery and collection.

    If you need help in this area or have question contact attorney SPIRIO at 631-277-8844.