Update on the American Tax Payer Relief Act

On January 3, 1013 the American Taxpayer Relief Act was signed into law.  The estate tax has been in a state of flux since 2001. The new Act makes permanent the 2012’s federal estate tax exemption of $5 million, adjusted annually for inflation.  This basically eliminates the estate taxes for most of the population.  If Congress had not acted, Estates above $1 million would have been subjected to federal estate taxes beginning in 2013. This would have been a significant change for estate planners and individuals.  In 2000, $675,000 was the amount free of federal estate taxes.  If you owned property worth more than $675,000 then your estate planner would have suggested doing some estate planning.  After 2001, pursuant to the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the $675,000 (with a 55 percent tax for anything above that amount) exemption increased in increments.  In 2002 and 2003 the exemption was $1 million.  In 2004 and 2005 the exemption was $1.5 million and in 2006 through 2008 the exemption was $2 million.  In 2009 the exemption was $3.5 million.

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Mediation in Family Law

There are a few different methods for divorce in family law other than litigation. Mediation is one of the more modern alternatives when dealing with divorce. Mediation can help resolve family law issues by using a neutral person to help both parties come to a final agreement.

The purpose of a mediator is to assist the couple and help them identify and resolve the priorities and needs of each individual in a neutral manor. The mediator will not force either party to settle if both parties do not agree on the terms.

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Introduction To Collaborative Divorce

In recent years, various alternative methods of divorce have been gaining currency among family law practitioners.  Collaborative divorce is one such method.  The aim of collaborative divorce is to reduce conflict while dissolving a marriage in a cooperative and respectful fashion.

In a traditional (or litigation-based) divorce, the members of the divorcing couple are positioned as opponents, with their respective attorneys competing on their behalf for rights and resources.  While this process is appropriate, and sometimes a necessity for some divorces, it can have a number of disadvantages.  Litigation is often costly, complicated, and acrimonious.  As traditional divorces are processed through the court system, they proceed along a timeline that is often cumbersome and inconvenient.  And since litigated divorce is a competitive process, it can breed mistrust and resentment.

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