WILLS/FAQs

[su_spoiler title=”What is a living will?” open=”no”]Living will documents an adult’s intent concerning medical treatment to be administered or withheld during a person’s incapacity. Healthcare proxy with 2 witnesses appoints just 1 agent to make medical decisions if that person becomes incapacitated and the only limitation on the healthcare proxy’s decision is that food and hydration cannot be withheld unless there is specific and clear evidence that this was the patient’s intent.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What’s the difference between Joint and mutual wills?” open=”no”]Joint will is one instrument signed by 2 people and mutual wills are 2 separate wills with reciprocal provisions In order to be enforced, the wills must have a separate statement that the will is intended as a K between 2 parties, which K cannot be revoked after 1 party dies Either party can alter or revoke the will when both are alive but once a party dies, the will’s contractual intent must be carried out and cannot be altered by the survivor Survivor of a joint or mutual will can sell inherited property to meet her daily bona fide needs but if she attempts to deplete the estate by making gifts or by executing a new will, then the 3rd party in the will can assert a claim for constructive trust to enforce the will’s intent[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is a living will?” open=”no”]Living will documents an adult’s intent concerning medical treatment to be administered or withheld during a person’s incapacity. Healthcare proxy with 2 witnesses appoints just 1 agent to make medical decisions if that person becomes incapacitated and the only limitation on the healthcare proxy’s decision is that food and hydration cannot be withheld unless there is specific and clear evidence that this was the patient’s intent.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What’s the difference between Joint and mutual wills?” open=”no”]Joint will is one instrument signed by 2 people and mutual wills are 2 separate wills with reciprocal provisions In order to be enforced, the wills must have a separate statement that the will is intended as a K between 2 parties, which K cannot be revoked after 1 party dies Either party can alter or revoke the will when both are alive but once a party dies, the will’s contractual intent must be carried out and cannot be altered by the survivor Survivor of a joint or mutual will can sell inherited property to meet her daily bona fide needs but if she attempts to deplete the estate by making gifts or by executing a new will, then the 3rd party in the will can assert a claim for constructive trust to enforce the will’s intent[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What if the will was lost?” open=”no”]If Testator’s will was last known to be in Testator’s possession but it cannot be found after Testator’s death, a “very strong presumption” arises that he destroyed it unless its absence can be explained by clear and convincing evidence. If Testator possessed the will but after his death only a Xerox could be produced, it is presumed he revoked the original. If 2 duplicate originals were executed by Testator, they both must be produced for probate; otherwise, the presumption of Testator’s destruction of 1 will arises. To rebut the presumption and to admit a lost will to probate, show: It was duly executed; It was not destroyed by Testator’s (Example: house burned down) Establish the contents of T’s will by: Testimony of any 2 people who read the will; or Unexecuted copy of a will[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can after born children affect the will?” open=”no”]Yes. If T’s children are born after Testator’s will was fully and properly executed, and then any after-born marital, non-marital or adopted child may affect T’s will in following common situations:

If Testator had no children when he executed the will (even if his or T’s spouse was pregnant when the will was executed), then any after-born child is entitled to an interstate share of Testator’s estate unless he otherwise provided for the after-born child during Testator’s lifetime.
If Testator had children and provided for them in Testator’s will, then any after born child will share ratably in the after-born child’s sibling bequest unless Testator otherwise provided for the after born child during his lifetime.
If Testator had children living but did not provide for them in Testator’s will, then any after born child is not entitled to any share of T’s estate.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Is a will still valid when husband and wife are divorced?” open=”no”]If Testator’s marriage ends in a decree of divorce, annulment, dissolution (based on the spouse’s 5 yr absence or incurable mental illness) or judicial separation, then these decrees automatically revoke a bequest in a will to a former spouse, as well as any provision, naming her as executor or trustee and she is treated as immediately predeceasing the testator.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”When should I make a will?” open=”no”]A person should make a will right now because no one knows what tomorrow holds. A person should review his estate plan occasionally, especially after certain events, such as marriage, divorce and winning the lottery.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Who needs a will?” open=”no”]Since most everyone dies possessing property, most everyone needs a will. State law decides what happens to property in the estate of a person who dies without a will. State law attempts to distribute the property according to what most people want, but it doesn’t always work that way. The default plan normally distributes property to relatives. Someone who leaves behind a girlfriend or boyfriend, or even a fiance’, will not be able to provide them with any inheritance unless there is a valid will. There is almost no exception in the law to provide otherwise[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I change a will?” open=”no”]Yes, if the testator is competent. A new will or a “codicil” can be executed to create a new scheme for disposing of the testator’s property. State law can change a will also. This is commonly done when there has been a divorce. Usually a divorce terminates the ex-spouse’s rights under a will, unless a contrary intent is clearly shown. A separation doesn’t terminate a spouse’s rights under a will. The specific impact of divorce on an existing will depends entirely on state law.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I appoint a guardian for my children in my will?” open=”no”]Yes. This is another valuable benefit that a will can provide. However, a court is not bound by the naming of a guardian in a will. The court will certainly consider it, and it’s often the only way to make your wishes known after you’ve died.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I dispose of my property in any way I wish?” open=”no”]Yes, for the most part. But if you indicated that all your property should be collected and burned, the law might not give effect to that part of your will. You won’t be able to avoid protections given to others by act of law, either. This can include your spouse’s rights against the estate, community property protections, and special protections for children.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can more than one person he named as personal representative?” open=”no”]Yes. You may appoint co-representatives, or a secondary representative. Having more than one representative can create problems during probate, however. Normally they will have the same powers to act, and this can create conflict. The nomination of two or more executors/representatives should be carefully considered.
Appointing co-representatives might be an emotional reaction – not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings. However, an emotional reaction is often not the best choice for a legal situation. If you nominate co-representatives, you need to believe that they will be able to cooperate in handling the estate.[/su_spoiler]

TRUST/FAQs

[su_spoiler title=”What is a trust?” open=”no”]A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is a revocable trust?” open=”no”]Revocable trust: Also known as a living trust, a revocable trust can help assets pass outside of probate, yet allows you to retain control of the assets during your (the grantor’s) lifetime. It is flexible and can be dissolved at any time, should your circumstances or intentions change. A revocable trust typically becomes irrevocable upon the death of the grantor.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is an irrevocable trust?” open=”no”]Irrevocable trust: An irrevocable trust typically transfers your assets out of your (the grantor’s) estate and potentially out of the reach of estate taxes and probate, but cannot be altered by the grantor after it has been executed. Therefore, once you establish the trust, you will lose control over the assets and you cannot change any terms or decide to dissolve the trust. An irrevocable trust is generally preferred over a revocable trust if your primary aim is to reduce the amount subject to estate taxes by effectively removing the trust assets from your estate. Also, since the assets have been transferred to the trust, you are relieved of the tax liability on the income generated by the trust assets (although distributions will typically have income tax consequences). It may also be protected in the event of a legal judgment against you.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What type of the trust do I need?” open=”no”]There are several types of trusts. I have provided list of trusts that you can choose from but for better choice that applies to your particular situation you have to consult the specializing attorney.
I will describe most common types of trust:
Marital Trust: Designed to provide benefits to a surviving spouse; generally included in the taxable estate of the surviving spouse;
Bypass or “B” trust: Also known as credit shelter trust, established to bypass the surviving spouse’s estate in order to make full use of any federal estate tax exemption for each spouse;
Testamentary trust: Outlined in a will and created through the will after the death, with funds subject to probate and transfer taxes; often continues to be subject to probate court supervision
thereafter;
Irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT): Irrevocable trust designed to exclude life insurance proceeds from the deceased’s taxable estate while providing liquidity to the estate and/or the trusts’ beneficiaries;
Charitable remainder trust: Allows you to receive an income stream for a defined period of time and stipulate that any remainder go to a charity;
Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) trust: Used to provide income for a surviving spouse. Upon the spouse’s death, the assets then go to additional beneficiaries named by the deceased. Often used in second marriage situations, tax or estate tax planning flexibility[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Recently my mother has taken ill and she wants to leave me a portion of her estate. I’m worried that this inheritance will ruin my eligibility for government benefits. I receive SSI and Medicaid and Medicare. What should I do?” open=”no”]Due to these concerns, a newer tool, known as a Special Needs Trust (SNT), has been created to aid people in precisely your situation. In general, a trust is a legal arrangement where property is controlled on someone’s behalf. A Special Needs Trust is a specific type of a trust that is created with the purpose of providing extra care beyond that which is received through government benefits. The person must have a mental or physical disability and/or chronic/acquired illness. The funds held in a SNT are for the benefit of the person with the disability or chronic illness and cannot be used for any other purpose. The trust will have its own identity, its own Federal I.D. Number (Employer Identification Number) and will not be linked to a social security number. There is no limit to the amount of assets that may be held in an SNT.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What will happened to the trust if my disability is not permanent and I will not need benefits later?” open=”no”]Many factors make it hard to predict whether someone who currently has a disability will always need to rely on SSI and Medicaid. Many disabling conditions are not permanent and changes in the workplace, new treatments for disabilities, and new technologies for living with disabilities may affect whether your loved one will need government benefits in the future. While you may not be able to know with certainty whether your loved one will continue to need SSI or Medicaid, you can create a special needs trust without worrying that you will needlessly tie up your loved one’s inheritance. Most special needs trusts take into account the possibility that the trust, for whatever reason, may not always be necessary, to terminate the trust if that is the best for the beneficiary./su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”My conditions getting worsened and I will need benefits later will a Special Need Trust be good for me?” open=”no”]Some people who aren’t disabled now may need assistance from SSI or Medicaid at some point because of a condition that is likely to get worse. In this situation, creating a special needs trust involves some guesswork. But if you think it’s more likely than not that a loved one will need government assistance for a significant length of time, it makes sense to set up a special needs trust now. In the trust, you can give the trustee the power to terminate the trust if it is not needed.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Someone Who Cannot Manage Finances can get a trust too?” open=”no”]People whose temperaments make it unlikely that they will be able to wisely manage an inheritance are good candidates for a special needs trust, even if they ultimately won’t need SSI or Medicaid. Such trusts are often called “spendthrift” trusts when used to keep assets out of the hands of a beneficiary (and of his or her creditors) and in the firm control of a wise trustee. A spendthrift trust is a type of property control trust that limits the beneficiary’s access to trust principal.

This restriction protects trust property from:
• a beneficiary who might squander trust property, and
• the beneficiary’s creditors.

Spendthrift trusts are usually made by a grantor who wants to leave property to a beneficiary but is worried that the beneficiary won’t use the property wisely or that he or she might get into trouble with creditors. A spendthrift trust ensures that some trust property can be made available to the beneficiary, without the possibility that the beneficiary could squander it all at once.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is a living trust?” open=”no”]It is a written legal document that partially substitutes for a will. With a living trust, your assets (your home, bank accounts and stocks, for example) are put into the trust, administered for your benefit during your lifetime, and then transferred to your beneficiaries when you die.
Most people name themselves as the trustee in charge of managing their trust’s assets. This way, even though your assets have been put into the trust, you can remain in control of your assets
during your lifetime. You can also name a successor trustee (a person or an institution) who will manage the trust’s assets if you ever become unable or unwilling to do so yourself.
The living trust described in this pamphlet is a revocable living trust (sometimes referred to as a revocable inter vivos trust or a grantor trust). Such a trust may be amended or revoked at any
time by the person or persons who created it (commonly known as the or settlor(s)) as long as he, she, or they are still competent.[/su_spoiler]

BANKRUPTCY/FAQs

[su_spoiler title=”What is Bankruptcy?” open=”no”]Bankruptcy is a process in which consumers and businesses can eliminate or repay some or all of their debts under the protection of the federal bankruptcy court. For the most part, bankruptcies can be divided into two types – liquidation and reorganization.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is Chapter 7?” open=”no”]Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be filed by individuals (called a “consumer” Chapter 7 bankruptcy) or businesses (called a “business” Chapter 7 bankruptcy). A Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically lasts three to six months.
Property liquidation. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, some of your property may be sold to pay down your debt. In return, most or all of your unsecured debts (that is, debts for which collateral has
not been pledged) will be erased. You get to keep any property that is classified as exempt under the state or federal laws available to you (such as your clothes, car, and household furnishings).
Many debtors who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy are pleased to learn that all of their property is exempt. Secured debt. If you owe money on a secured debt (for example, a car loan for which the car is pledged as a guarantee of payment), you have a choice of allowing the creditor to repossess the property; continuing your payments on the property under the contract (if the lender agrees); or paying the creditor a lump sum amount equal to the current replacement value of the property. Some types of secured debts can be eliminated in Chapter 7 bankruptcy[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – Who Can’t File?” open=”no”]In order to be eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you must meet several criteria. Your income cannot be over a certain amount, and if it is, you must pass the “means test.” In addition, the court will dismiss your case if you have filed a previous bankruptcy within a certain period of time, or if the court believes you are cheating your creditors. This article explains the situations in which you won’t be eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is a chapter 13 Bankruptcy?” open=”no”]Chapter 13 allows a debtor to keep property and pay debts over time, usually three to five years.) A chapter 13 bankruptcy is also called a wage earner’s plan. It enables individuals with regular income to develop a plan to repay all or part of their debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy will last from 3 to 5 years! This lengthy time period is due to the fact that Chapter 13 involves regular monthly payments to the Chapter 13 trustee for the plan period. The plan period will vary from 3 to 5 years, depending upon whether your income is generally above or below the median income for your state of residence.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is a payment plan under chapter 13?” open=”no”]The Chapter 13 plan, or simply the payment plan, is how Chapter 13 works. Chapter 13 is an attempt to “reorganize” an individual’s debt by paying certain creditors over a period of time. The debtor’s income is analyzed by the means test, which determines the disposable income of the debtor. The disposable income will then be used to make the monthly plan payments. Depending upon the means test calculation, there may be no allocation at all to unsecured creditors, such as credit card companies and medical bills. However, the Chapter 13 plan must always pay priority claims, such as domestic support obligations, child support and tax debt.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I file for bankruptcy if i owe the IRS?” open=”no”]The moment you file bankruptcy an automatic stay is created. The automatic stay stops most creditors, including the IRS, from initiating or continuing any collection activities against you. If any creditor wishes to collect on its debts outside of bankruptcy, it must first ask the court’s permission for relief from the stay in order to proceed.
The automatic stay ends when your case is closed after a discharge, dismissed without a discharge, or if the court lifts the stay at the request of a creditor.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I file for bankruptcy and discharge my student loans?” open=”no”]This is not an automatic process—you must prove to the bankruptcy court that repaying your student loan would cause undue hardship. If you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may have your loan discharged in bankruptcy only if the bankruptcy court finds that repayment would impose undue hardship on you and your dependents. This must be decided in an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court. Your creditors may be present to challenge the request. The court uses this three-part test to determine hardship:
• If you are forced to repay the loan, you would not be able to maintain a minimal standard of living.
• There is evidence that this hardship will continue for a significant portion of the loan repayment period.
• You made good-faith efforts to repay the loan before filing bankruptcy (usually this means you have been in repayment for a minimum of five years).[/su_spoiler]

IMMIGRATION/FAQs

[su_spoiler title=”WHAT IS ASYLUM AND HOW DO YOU OBTAIN IT?” open=”no”]
Asylum is the protection granted to foreign nationals who feel they cannot return to their native country. Seeking asylum is often confused with requesting refugee status, however, one main difference is that an individual who is requesting asylum is already in the country at the time of their request. In most cases, asylum is requested because an individual feels they would be in some form of mortal danger if they were to return to their country. Common reasons individuals seek asylum in the U.S. is because they are afraid of being killed by their own government, or persecuted due to their race, social status, personal, political or religious beliefs.
There are specific requirements which must be met in order for an individual to prove they are in danger of being persecuted or harmed, and thus eligible to seek asylum. That is why if you or a loved one wishes to seek asylum in the United States, you need to consult with an Law Offices of Marina Shepelsky, P.C. right away. Our attorneys will review your specific situation, analysis all the facts surrounding your asylum request, and help you determine the best course of action to pursue.
We work with individuals who have either arrived in the U.S. with the specific purpose of requesting asylum and need legal representation to do so, and with individuals who have been found to be in the U.S. illegally, but have a real fear of being persecuted if they were to be deported back to their native country. In a situation like that, requesting asylum may be the proper deportation defense.
If your spouse or minor children are with you in the U.S., they too can be included on your application for asylum. Once asylum is granted, you will be able to legally live and work in the United States. After one year, you will also be eligible to apply for a permanent residence visa in order to achieve permanent resident status[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT LABOR CERTIFICATION” open=”no”]
The Department of Labor (DOL) may issue a permanent labor certification, enabling a foreign worker to work for a U.S. employer permanently in the United States. In more cases than not, the U.S. employer is required to get a certified labor certification application from the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) before submitting an immigration petition to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
On behalf of the U.S. employer, the DOL must prove to the USCIS that there are absolutely no adequate workers in the United States that are able, willing, available and qualified to perform the opportunity of employment in the designated area. It must also be proven that the wages and working conditions of comparable U.S. employees will not be subject to change due to the employment of the foreign worker. If you need help beginning or completing the labor certification process, call Law offices of Marina Shepelsky, P.C. for quality assistance.
As of December 27th, 2004, ETA established a final regulation of the permanent labor certification program (PERM) that efficiently executes an overhauled permanent labor certification program made effective on March 28th, 2005. As of this date, all ETA Form 9089 applications (replacing the former ETA Form 750 applications) had to be filed at the corresponding National Processing Center (NPC). This form is now mandatory for an employer’s sponsorship of a foreign national through the labor certification process, specifically for an employment-based green-card.
Passwords, identifiers, or personal identifier numbers (PINs) may be needed by the DOL in the labor certification process, of which will be used only by the individual. Therefore, any electronic conveyance will be presumed to originate from the individual that has the corresponding identifier used.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”WHAT RIGHTS DO CLIENTS HAVE?” open=”no”]
If you work with an immigration lawyer or accredited representative, you have certain rights. You have the right to:

  • A written statement or contract, explaining the work the lawyer will do in your case and the fees he or she will charge for that work
  • Be kept informed about your case status and what has been filed
  • A complete copy of any forms or documents submitted in your case
  • An accounting of your case, spelling out the total costs, as well as receipts for payments
[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How is the deportation process initiated?” open=”no”]Department of Homeland Security (EOIR) issues a Notice to Appear (NTA) stating the reason why the alien should be deported or removed. The NTA is served to the alien and is filed with the immigration court. A hearing is scheduled, at which an immigration judge will determine if the information in the NTA is correct. If it is, removal of the alien will be ordered.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can a deportation or removal order be appealed?” open=”no”]Yes. The alien has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration (BIA). If the BIA decides against the alien, the matter can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Finally, if the Court of Appeals also finds against the alien, the matter can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Under what circumstance will a foreign spouse’s permanent resident status in the U.S. be conditional?” open=”no”]A spouse’s permanent resident status will be conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years old from the day the permanent resident status was granted. To remove the conditions, the spouse must establish that the purpose of the marriage was not to evade the U.S. immigration laws.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Under what circumstance will a foreign fiance(e), who has been admitted into the U.S. for the purpose of getting married, be required to leave the U.S.” open=”no”]If the marriage to the U.S. citizen who filed the petition to permit the fiance(e) into the U.S. does not take place within 90 days of entering the U.S., the fiance(e) will be required to leave the country.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can a U.S citizen file an application to adopt a foreign-born child before the citizen has identified a child to adopt?” open=”no”]Yes. A married U.S. citizen, or an unmarried citizen who is at least 24 years of age and will be at least 25 when the petition is actually filed, may file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, to speed up the adoption process.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can a fee for immigration related services be waived?” open=”no”]Yes. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) bureau has discretion to waive a filing fee if the applicant can establish that he or she is unable to pay. In order to have the USCIS consider waiving a fee, the applicant must follow specific instructions, including completion of a form for review by the USCIS.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”I am looking to adopt a foreign child – how can I make the process as fast as possible?” open=”no”]For those who are looking into adoption, but have yet to identify the child that they are interested in adopting, it is recommended that they file an Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. This will allow for the portion relating to the approval of the parents to have been completed by the time the child is chosen so that the adoption process can be expedited.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”I’m a foreign national studying in the U.S., can I stay within the country following graduation?” open=”no”]To stay in the country following graduation, a student will need to obtain an H-1B temporary worker visa. Typically, graduates who work in a specialty field (such as a medical professional or engineer) will be able to obtain this visa with ease. To ensure that this process moves smoothly, it is recommended that students apply for this visa as early as possible to avoid penalties.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”If I become a citizen, what are the privileges that I will experience?” open=”no”]There are three primary privileges that citizens are able to experience. These include being able to vote in local, state and national elections; having the ability to obtain a passport; and sponsoring relatives in their efforts to become a permanent resident.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I become a citizen after I am granted permanent residency?” open=”no”]Yes! If you live within the country for five years as a permanent resident, you will be able to obtain citizenship through naturalization. To be eligible for this, however, you must have been physically living within the country for at least half of those five years – and must have not left for a time period longer than six months.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Who is permitted to enter the U.S. from a foreign country?” open=”no”]U.S. law establishes four principal means by which a foreign national can legally enter the country: employment-based immigration, family-based immigration, refugee or asylee status and the diversity lottery. Each category covers a variety of situations, some allowing permanent immigration and some only temporary stays in the country. The government allows temporary or permanent immigration for economic reasons such as filling jobs U.S. workers are not taking, and for humanitarian reasons such as reuniting families, or granting asylum or refugee status. The law establishes yearly quotas for some categories.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Which family members may sponsor relatives for U.S. immigrant visas for permanent entry?” open=”no”]With some exception and restriction, a U.S. citizen may sponsor a spouse, parent, sibling, minor child or adult child (regardless of marital status), or fiancé(e) for an immigrant visa, known popularly as a green card. Additionally, an alien in the U.S. with lawful permanent resident status (a green card holder) may sponsor a spouse, minor child or adult unmarried child. Citizens and permanent residents who sponsor relatives for immigration must have a certain level of earnings and agree to legally support their incoming family members.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How can a foreign national gain lawful-permanent-resident (LPR) status?” open=”no”]The two main ways a foreign national can become an LPR is to be sponsored by 1) a family member already living in the U.S. as a citizen or lawful permanent resident; or 2) an employer for a U.S. job that falls into a particular category set out by federal law. Foreign nationals also may be eligible to register for the diversity lottery and those with fear of persecution at home may qualify as refugees or asylees.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”If a foreign national is ineligible for lawful permanent resident status, are there other ways to enter the U.S. legally?” open=”no”]Foreign nationals may be able to enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time with a nonimmigrant visa. However, to receive a nonimmigrant visa, the foreign national must meet the requirements for one of the nonimmigrant categories set out by federal law. These categories include, among others, those wishing to visit family members or friends in the U.S., travel, receive medical treatment, conduct business or diplomacy, enroll in technical schools or universities, participate in cultural or educational exchange programs, or seek qualified temporary employment.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”If I have been granted a temporary work visa, may my spouse and child accompany me to the U.S.?” open=”no”]The dependent spouse and minor children of an applicant who has received a temporary work visa may be eligible to join the temporary worker in the U.S. However, the spouse and children will need to apply and be approved for the appropriate type of nonimmigrant visa in order to travel to the U.S. U.S. Under most circumstances, the spouse and children will not be allowed to work while in the U.S.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How do I extend my stay in the U.S.?” open=”no”]Many nonimmigrant visa categories allow for extensions of time in the U.S., but normally government permission to stay beyond the original time periods granted is discretionary, not automatic. To extend the amount of time a foreign national may remain in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa eligible for extension, he or she must apply with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application should be filed well in advance of the foreign national’s last authorized day in the U.S. to avoid falling “out of status.” Normally, to be eligible for an extension, the foreign national may not have violated any of the terms of his or her nonimmigrant visa, and may not have committed any crime or otherwise broken the law while in the U.S.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What are deportable offenses?” open=”no”]Deportable offenses are those actions for which an alien may be forced to leave the U.S. and return to his or her home country. Some deportable offenses include using fraudulent documents to enter the U.S., providing material misrepresentations (like marriage fraud) to receive a visa, committing certain types of crimes (like most drug crimes, aggravated felonies, domestic violence and child abuse, many gun offenses and more), posing a threat to national security, engaging in terroristic activity, helping others enter the country illegally, overstaying a visa and voting illegally. For a complete list, see 8 U.S.C.A. § 1227.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Is there a limit on the number of people officially designated as refugees and asylum seekers on humanitarian grounds each year?” open=”no”]The president sets an annual limit on the number of refugees (coming from outside the U.S.), but not on the number of asylum seekers (already in the U.S.). The president works with Congress to determine the number of refugees that should be admitted to the U.S. for resettlement. To qualify as a refugee or asylee, an individual must have a “well-founded fear of persecution” at home for his or her religion, race or national origin, politics, or social-group membership.[/su_spoiler]

FAMILY/DIVORCE LAW /FAQs

[su_spoiler title=”What is a divorce?” open=”no”]Divorce is the final, legal ending of a marriage by court order. If you have a divorce case in court, you may hear lawyers and court staff call it a matrimonial action. The person who starts the divorce is called the plaintiff, and the other spouse is called the defendant.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Where do I go to for a divorce?” open=”no”]The Supreme Court of the State of New York is the only court that handles divorce cases, and a Supreme Court judge is the only person who can legally grant a divorce. You should go to the Supreme Court in the county where you or your spouse now live. You cannot get a divorce inFamily Court.
Although Family Court cannot give you a divorce, you can go to your local Family Court for help with child support, child custody, child visitation, spousal support (also known as spousalmaintenance), and paternity. Visit CourtHelp.org for more information on choosing the right court for your particular issue.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is an annulment?” open=”no”]Unlike a divorce that ends a valid marriage, an annulment establishes that the marriage is not legally valid, and the grounds for annulment are different from a divorce. To get an annulment, you will need to prove ONE of the following:
• Bigamy: one of the parties was still married to someone else at the time of the second marriage.
• Either spouse was incurably unable to have sexual intercourse at the time of the marriage.
• After marriage, either spouse becomes incurably insane for five (5) years or more. The Court may require the sane spouse to support the Marriage between persons under 18, if the spouse under 18 wants the annulment. The annulment will not be granted if the person under 18 freely cohabited(had sexual relations) with the other spouse after turning 18.
• Spouse is unable to understand the nature, effect and consequences of marriage because of mental incapacity.
• Spouse agreed to marry as a result of force or duress by the other.
• Fraud (most common ground): the consent to marry was obtained by fraud that would have deceived an ordinarily prudent person and was material to obtaining the other party’s consent. The fraud must go to the essence of the marriage contract. Concealment of a material fact may constitute fraud. Sexual intercourse evidencing forgiveness is an absolute defense.
To learn about religious annulment, you should consult the religious faith that performed the marriage.
Annulment is defined in Domestic Relations Law §140. If you would like an annulment, you should seriously consider speaking to a lawyer. The court does not provide forms for annulment.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How do I start a divorce case?” open=”no”]You will need to buy an Index Number at the County Clerk’s Office and file a Summons with Noticeor a Summons and Verified Complaint (which has the reasons for the divorce). Next, you will need to have another person over the age of 18 who is not a party to the action serve your spouse with the papers. For more information on filing fees, completing and serving papers, placing your case on the court’s calendar, and other procedures, please carefully follow the Uncontested DivorceForms Packet Instructions. You can also use the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Uncontested Divorce Program if you are filing for an uncontested divorce, your marriage has been over for at least six months, there are no children under 21, and all marital property issues, including debt, have been settled.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do I need a lawyer to get divorced?” open=”no”]Because divorce law can be complicated, you should meet with a lawyer — even if you think your divorce will be uncontested. If you and your spouse have resolved all financial and parenting issues, and you do not have a lawyer, you can use the free Uncontested Divorce Forms Packet. You must first read the Uncontested Divorce Forms Packet Instructions before trying to complete the process on your own. You can also use the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Uncontested Divorce Programif you are filing for an uncontested divorce, your marriage has been over for at least six months, there are no children under 21, and all marital property issues, including debt, have been settled.
If you have parenting or financial issues to work out, you may want to consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes like divorce mediation or collaborative family law. These out-of-court processes often save time and money, reduce stress, and even improve relationships between parents and their children after divorce. ADR may not be appropriate in cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, or where one spouse cannot locate the other. [see What if I cannot locate my spouse?][/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What if I cannot locate my spouse?” open=”no”]New York state law requires that the defendant in a divorce action be personally served with theSummons with Notice or Summons and Verified Complaint. To have your spouse served in any other way, you must get permission from the court. You can apply for such permission by filing an application for alternate service with the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office in the county where you filed your divorce case.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”To start a divorce case, what legal requirements do I need to meet?” open=”no”](1) Residency: Before a New York Court can give you a divorce, you need to show that you and/or your spouse have lived in New York State for a certain amount of time, without interruption, generally for one year. For more information on the residency requirement, see pp. 1-3 of theUncontested Divorce Forms Packet Instructions.
(2) Grounds: You need to have grounds – a legally acceptable reason – to get divorced in New York. That means that you need to prove one of the grounds listed below:
• Cruel and Inhuman treatment
• Abandonment
• Confinement in prison for 3 or more consecutive years 
• Adultery
• Living separate and apart pursuant to a separation judgment or decree
• Living separate and apart pursuant to a separation agreement
• Irretrievable breakdown in the relationship for a period of at least 6 months (for divorce proceedings started on/after October 12, 2010)
For more details on grounds, see pages 3-5 of the Uncontested Divorce Forms PacketInstructions.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is the difference between a Contested and an Uncontested Divorce?” open=”no”]UNCONTESTED: Your divorce will be uncontested if both you and your spouse:
• Want to get a divorce
• Agree about what will happen with your children, your finances, your property after the divorce
If your divorce is uncontested, and you and your spouse have reached agreement on all financial and parenting issues, you may use the Court’s free Uncontested Divorce Forms Packet. You can also use the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Uncontested Divorce Program if you are filing for an uncontested divorce, your marriage has been over for at least six months, there are no children under 21, and all marital property issues, including debt, have been settled.
If you have not reached agreement, and you think you and your spouse could come to an agreement with some help, you might want to consider divorce mediation or collaborative family law.
CONTESTED: Your divorce will be contested if either you or your spouse:
• Do not want to get a divorce
• Disagree about the grounds (legal reasons) for the divorce
• Disagree about what will happen with your children, your finances, your property after the divorce
Because the judge will require detailed information to decide the issues you disagree about, your contested divorce will require you and your spouse to go to the Supreme Court numerous times. If your divorce will be contested, you should seriously consider finding a lawyer to represent you.
You might want to consider divorce mediation or collaborative family law.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How Long Must I Reside in New York Before I can Begin my Divorce Action?” open=”no”]You can file for divorce in New York if one of the following applies to your case:
⦁ you and your spouse were married in New York, and at least one of you has been a resident of New York for at least one year before the start of the divorce
⦁ you and your spouse resided in New York as husband and wife, and at least one of you has been a resident of New York for at least one year before the start of the divorce
⦁ the grounds for divorce occurred in New York, and at least one of you has been a resident of New York for at least one year before the start of the divorce
⦁ the grounds for divorce occurred in New York, and both you and your spouse are residents of New York at the start of the divorce

[su_spoiler title=”How do I enforce the payment of child support?” open=”no”]There are a variety of ways to enforce the payment of child support. Once a support order is made, if it is not paid, the court may then take further action to enforce the order. The most common way a court collects child support payments when not voluntarily made, is through a wage garnishment order, which directs the non-custodial parent’s employer to deduct the child support payment from earnings and make payment directly to the custodial parent. Another possibility is to have the support paid to a state agency called the Support Collection Unit or Child Support Enforcement Bureau, which then cashes the check and sends their own check to the custodial parent. This agency keeps records of payments received and made. If a non-custodial parent owes back child support, known as “arrears”, and the child support order is payable through the agency, then the agency has the authority to intercept any tax refund the non-custodial parent is entitled to receive and have those funds paid to the custodial parent for the purpose of paying off the arrears. Should the custodial parent claim that the non-custodial parent is in violation of the child support order, and the court finds that the violation was willful, and then the non-custodial parent can be held in contempt of court, with potential consequences being a money judgment in favor of the custodial parent or, in some cases, incarceration up to six months. Other remedies that the court or the agency can take against a parent who does not pay support includes the suspension of professional and driver’s licenses. New York’s Family Court Act directs that the non-custodial parent who is found in willful violation of a child support order is responsible to pay the attorney fees for the custodial parent seeking enforcement. [/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How do I get my child support modified?” open=”no”]An application to change or modify a child support order can be made when there is a material change in circumstances from the time the existing order was issued. If there are substantial changes in a parent’s financial situation, such as a substantial increase or decrease in wages or loss of a job, a child support order can be modified. Unexpected expenses for the child such as large medical bills or a need for special education are also grounds for modifying child support. Some changes in child support can be temporary, for example, if one parent loses his or her job, the amount of child support he or she pays may decrease until a new job is found. Then child support payments may increase again based on the parent’s new salary. Both parents must submit tax returns, paycheck stubs, and any other evidence of employment as well as expense statements so that, if warranted, appropriate modification of child support may be determined. Where the parties previously entered an agreement of support, the parent seeking a change or modification may have to establish certain threshold showings to be entitled to a modification. For more information contact our office today.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”When will the termination of a child support order occur?” open=”no”]Termination of a child support order will occur when certain requirements established by state law have been met. For example, child support will most often terminate when the child for whom support is being paid reaches the age of twenty-one. However, there are circumstances, such as prior agreement between parents, when the court might order that the child support remain in effect after the age of twenty-one to meet certain educational needs of the child. Child support will also terminate if the child becomes emancipated. Common grounds for emancipation include attaining the age of twenty-one, working full-time and becoming self-supporting, getting married, or joining the armed forces. A non-custodial parent who pays child support may be able to have the court terminate a child support order if a child abandons the parent by refusing to have a relationship with the parent despite the parent’s efforts to maintain a relationship. Emancipation may be reversible, such as where a child who was formerly self-supporting is no longer self-supporting and is still under the age of twenty-one.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Basic Child Support Obligation – What is this?” open=”no”]The “basic child support obligation” is defined in Domestic Relations Law Section 240 (1-b)(b)(1) to mean “the sum derived by adding the amounts determined by the application of subparagraphs two and three of paragraph (c) of this subdivision except an increased pursuant to subparagraphs 4, 5, 6 and 7 of such paragraph.”[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can a Court, in the exercise of its discretion, attribute or impute income to either parent from any resources as may be available to the parent?” open=”no”]Yes, a Court can attribute or impute income to either parent from any resources as may be available to the parent. These may include but not be limited to:
⦁ non-income producing assets;
⦁ meals, lodging, memberships, cars or other perquisites that are provided as part of compensation for employment to the extent that such perquisites constitute expenditures for personal use or which expenditures directly or indirectly confer personal economic benefits;
⦁ fringe benefits as part of compensation for employment;
⦁ money, goods or services provided by relatives and friends.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What are the child support percentages?” open=”no”]Once arriving at the combined parental income, the sum calculated is multiplied by the appropriate “child support percentage.” The “child support percentage” is defined as:
⦁ 17% of the combined parental income for one child;
⦁ 25% of the combined parental income for two children;
⦁ 29% of the combined parental income for three children;
⦁ 31% of the combined parental income for four children;
⦁ no more than 35% of the combined parental income for five or more children.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is gross income for purposes of calculating child support?” open=”no”]Gross income means all income from whatever source derived, including but not limited to:
⦁ Compensation for services, including fees, commissions, fringe benefits and similar items;
⦁ Gross income derived from business;
⦁ Gains derived from dealings in property;
⦁ Interest;
⦁ Rents;
⦁ Royalties;
⦁ Dividends;
⦁ Alimony and separate maintenance payments;
⦁ Annuities;
⦁ Income from life insurance and endowment contracts;
⦁ Pensions;
⦁ Income from discharge of indebtedness;
⦁ Distributive share of partnership gross income;
⦁ Income in respect of a decedent; and
⦁ Income from an interest in an estate of trust.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How does grandparent custody work in New York?” open=”no”]The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren has become increasingly complex over the past 15 years. A 1990 Time Magazine article reports that 3 million children live with their grandparents, this is an increase of 50% since 1980. Many grandparents are raising their grandchildren today in informal custody arrangements. Often grandparents find that they need or want a legal order of custody of their minor grandchildren, and they must go to court. In New York State, there are certain requirements, which must be met in order to obtain an order of legal custody. In general terms, the natural parent of the child has a superior right to raise the child over any other non-parent (including grandparents) unless extraordinary circumstances can be shown. Extraordinary circumstances are: surrender of the child, abandonment of the child, persistent neglect, unfitness of the parent, or other like circumstances. The test of extraordinary circumstances must be met before the court will move on to the next test: whether it is in the best interests of the child to be in the custody of the grandparent. Extraordinary circumstances includes situations where the parent is psychologically impaired, drug addicted, alcohol addicted, or otherwise unfit. Proving these matters often becomes a complex and difficult task. It is imperative that you have the benefit of an experienced attorney familiar with grandparental matters to assist you.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How Can We Reach Agreement In Mediation?” open=”no”]I begin work with people by identifying all of the unresolved issues. We have a detailed checklist that we go through to identify where there is already agreement, and where we need additional information and/or discussion. Each person gets to tell me his/her side of the story, so that I can hear as much as possible about what each of you needs to move forward with your life. I give each person a pad of paper and a pen so that the other person can write down their ideas without having to interrupt the speaker.
Once all the issues are on the table, we can begin to delve deeper into different points to gain an increased understanding. When that understanding is there, problem solving begins.
Conflict is painful. Most people have a drive to resolve it. When people understand the sources of conflict, there is a huge release of creative energy which leads to terrific brainstorming sessions about how to solve the problem and end the conflict.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What are the benefits of divorce mediation?” open=”no”]⦁ It is much less costly than a traditional divorce. Mediation is generally charged on an hourly basis with no up-front retainer fees, paid a the conclusion of each session. Individual situations vary, but mediation can often be completed in six to twelve sessions, with a traditional divorce can go on for years. Both parties usually share the cost of the mediation, which is far less costly than paying tow separate attorneys to represent each spouse in the court room.
⦁ It is empowering. Mediation empowers individuals to solve the problems which affect their lives. Sutides have shown that couples who mediate are better able to cooperate in the future.
⦁ It is mutual. In mediation, both parties agree on all solutions or there is on agreement. In a litigated divorce, the agreement is imposed by a judge in court. Couples who mediate have been show to be more satisfied with their divorce and therefore more likely to fulfill the terms of their agreement.
⦁ It serves the best intrusts of the children. The children of couples in mediated divorces are typically exposed to less tension and conflict in the home than children whose parents are in a litigated divorce.
⦁ It provides WIN-WIN solutions. Mediating couples are encouraged to find win-win solutions, rather than solutions in which one party wins and the other loses. With win-win results each participant and the entire family come out winning.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is alimony?” open=”no”]Alimony (Maintenance) is money paid to one spouse by the other for support during or after legal separation or divorce. It’s designed to provide the lower-income spouse with money for living expenses over and above any money that is provided by child support. There are several factors a judge considers when deciding whether and for what period of time to grant alimony, such as: the parties’ relative ability to earn money, both now and in the future; their respective ages and health; the length of the marriage; and the standard of living established during the marriage. Alimony is tax deductible to the person who pays it and is included in the taxable income of the person who receives it. While there is no requirement that the parties were married for there to be an award of child support, there can be no award of maintenance if the partie [/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How is a custody order modified?” open=”no”]Changes or modifications can be made to a custody order where there has been a change in circumstances. A change in circumstances can be either a change in the custodial parent’s situation or in the child’s situation. The change in circumstances must be substantial, rather than minor, and must be such that the best interests of the child is at risk. In appropriate cases, a court can change custody where a custodial parent refuses to allow visitation by the non-custodial parent or where the custodial parent attempts to alienate the child from the non-custodial parent. Unless the parties agree to the circumstances for a change, a court will decide whether a change in custody occurs. The court may seek the assistance of professionals such as a Certified Social Worker or forensic psychologist or psychiatrist. The court will appoint an attorney, called a law guardian, to represent the child. While the input of the professionals is not controlling, it is often relied upon by the court in coming to a decision on custody.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What Is A Legal Separation?” open=”no”]A married couple experiencing marital difficulties, but still believing that the marriage may be reconcilable, may petition a court for legal separation, or, enter into a separation agreement. A legal separation is a finding by a court that the conditions or circumstances of a marriage make it intolerable for the parties to live together, but does not otherwise affect the legal status of the marriage. Alternatively, the parties can agree to separate voluntarily and draw up a formal agreement, which may include provisions for child support and maintenance and division of property and debts. At any time after one year subsequent to the legal separation, either party may file a petition for divorce.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is an order of protection?” open=”no”]A temporary restraining order may be obtained by a spouse who feels threatened, or feels that he or she is or may be a victim of domestic violence. Sometimes during a divorce, one spouse may feel the need to ask for a temporary restraining order against his or her spouse. Restraining or protective orders instruct the spouse to cease particular activities against the victim and may even require the offending spouse to remain away from the other spouse, children and marital residence. After filing an appropriate petition, the court may issue a temporary restraining order and a hearing date will be set for sometime within the next few weeks. A law enforcement official will deliver a copy of the order to the spouse who must abide by the rules of the restraining order. Some restraining orders require that the perpetrator not contact, attack, strike, threaten, batter, or otherwise disturb the peace of the protected person. Other protective orders require that the spouse move from the protected person’s home, stay at least 100 yards from the protected person, or attend counseling. At the hearing, the victim and the accused are both able to plead their cases, and the judge decides whether to terminate the order or extend it for a year or more. If a spouse violates the order, they will be subject to arrest and possibly jail time. If a restraining order is extended from temporary to permanent, the spouse may no longer be able to purchase or own a firearm. If you feel you need protection from a spouse or an ex-spouse, speak to qualified family law attorney immediately to determine the appropriate procedures you should take.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is marital property?” open=”no”]Marital property is any property owned by a husband and wife that’s been accumulated during the marriage, regardless of which spouse earned it and regardless of whose name it is titled to. The time frame “during the marriage” starts as of the day the couple marries, and usually ends on the date that one spouse files a divorce action in court. In New York, marital property is divided during a divorce according to what the court deems is equitable or fair. This is not necessarily equal. Separate property is property owned by one spouse prior to marriage, and also includes property received as a gift or by inheritance during marriage, or as a result of a personal injury settlement. Property purchased with the separate funds of a spouse remains that spouse’s separate property. A business owned by one spouse before the marriage remains his or her separate property during the marriage, but may be considered marital property if it increased in value during the marriage due to the efforts of one or the other of the spouses, or if both spouses worked at it. Separate property can be changed into marital property if its separate identity is not carefully maintained during the marriage. You should discuss in detail with an experienced family law attorney how each item of property was obtained and what contributions you have made to any increase in its value.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is supervised or restricted visitation?” open=”no”]When a non-custodial parent has a history of violent or destructive behavior, especially toward the child, the court often requires that visitation between the parent and the child be supervised or restricted. Visitation may also be restricted or supervised if there is an incident or history of domestic violence. Supervised visitation means that an adult, most often someone other than the custodial parent, must be present at all times during the visit. Sometimes the supervisor will be a friend or family member, if both parents agree. If the parents cannot agree, the court will usually appoint a supervisor, or may order that the visitation take place at a neutral supervised visitation facility. This way, parents are able to pick up and drop off the child without seeing one another or interacting with one another. Supervised visits may be helpful in establishing a regular, dependable visitation schedule. They may also be useful to the court, because often these facilities can provide a written report to the Judge about how the visits progress. Supervised visits at such a facility usually are held once per week for one hour. If supervised visitation is ordered, but really not appropriate, you can petition to change the visitation to unsupervised visitation.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What should I do to begin to prepare for my divorce?” open=”no”]You should begin to gather whatever financial information you can. You will need at least two years of tax returns, recent pay stubs, and any and all documentation of your assets and debts. This includes brokerage account statements, IRA and other retirement account statements, life insurance statements, etc. You may ultimately need to have your house, apartment, business and pensions appraised. You and your spouse are entitled to full financial disclosure from each other and will likely be exchanging sworn affidavits of net worth, no matter which process you choose.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”When does a court grant a judgment of separation?” open=”no”]A Court grants a judgment of separation when either of the parties brings an action for separation in the Supreme Court. A Court may grant separation based upon the following grounds, which are similar to the grounds for seeking a divorce:
⦁ Cruel and inhuman treatment
⦁ Imprisonment for more than three years
⦁ Adultery
⦁ Abandonment for less than one year
⦁ Non-support
If the Court grants a judgment of separation based upon any of these grounds, either party may sue for a “no-fault” divorce one year after the filing of the judgment and living separate and apart. A divorce will not occur automatically.[/su_spoiler]

CRIMINAL DEFENCE /FAQs

[su_spoiler title=”Do I need a lawyer even if I am innocent?” open=”no”]Every criminal defendant needs an attorney. Innocent people do end up in jail, and the best way to prevent such a miscarriage of justice is to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer will work throughout the criminal justice process to ensure that your rights are protected and that the truth prevails.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”If I intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?” open=”no”]Even if you know you are guilty, there are still options. For example, you may be able to make a deal with the prosecutor to plead guilty to a lesser charge (a plea bargain) in exchange for a lighter sentence. While you could try to negotiate for yourself, it can be very difficult to do so without a thorough knowledge of the law and experience in the practical realities. Criminal defense attorneys are likelier than you are to know what constitutes a good deal, and they also know how to protect your constitutional rights.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is a prosecutor and how is the prosecutor different from the police?” open=”no”]The prosecutor is a lawyer who represents the government that is charging you with a crime. The police are, in this situation, investigators for the government. Prosecutors are responsible for making the decision whether to charge someone with a crime. They also present the government’s case at trial. Prosecutors may be called city attorneys, county attorneys, state’s attorneys or district attorneys.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How does the prosecutor decide whether to file charges?” open=”no”] The first thing the prosecutor looks for is a legally sound case. Sometimes, cases have legal problems that could get them thrown out of court. For example, if the police violated the defendant’s constitutional rights while seeking evidence, that evidence would be inadmissible.
Next, the prosecutor decides if there is enough evidence to make a conviction probable. If the evidence is not very convincing, it would not be worth the time and expense of a trial.
The prosecutor also considers other factors in deciding whether to press charges. The prosecutor’s office has limited resources and typically must choose to focus on some crimes and not others. The “war on drugs” might convince prosecutors to concentrate more on drug crimes. 
A criminal case is between the government and the accused-not between the victim and the accused. Therefore, prosecutors are under no obligation to go along with a victim’s wishes in pressing or dropping criminal charges. However, most prosecutors do take the victim’s opinions into account.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is a grand jury?” open=”no”]A grand jury is a group of people called together by a prosecutor to investigate a crime. They do this by listening to testimony, by examining documents, and considering other evidence.
The prosecutor both acts as the grand jury’s legal advisor and presents all of the evidence. No judge is present. Unlike a trial jury, a grand jury only considers evidence from the prosecutor’s point of view. If you are being investigated by a grand jury, you should have a defense lawyer.  The only purpose of the grand jury is to decide whether there is enough evidence to press charges. This is called “indictment.” When a grand jury votes to indict someone, the defendant has only been charged with a crime, not found guilty.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I be punished for only attempting to commit a crime?” open=”no”]In many jurisdictions, attempting to commit a crime is a crime in itself. The purpose of this is to punish people who show themselves inclined to commit crimes-without having to wait until they actually succeed. In order to convict a person for an attempted crime, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt not only that the person intended to commit the crime, but also that he or she took a step beyond mere planning or preparation and actually began to commit the crime.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is restitution?” open=”no”]Restitution, in the context of criminal law, is when a judge orders a person who has been convicted of a crime to pay their victim money in order to help “make up” for the crime.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”If I get arrested, what should I do?” open=”no”]If you are arrested, you shouldn’t say anything that would incriminate you to the police. You should invoke your right to remain silent until you have spoken to a criminal lawyer. The police office will recognize your Fifth Amendment rights. You also shouldn’t consent to a search of your vehicle or person. Always be respectful and conciliatory even if you believe you are wrongly accused and/or arrested. Never physically resist arrest, verbally attack, or run from a police officer. This applies to whether you believe you are innocent or know you have committed a crime. Respectful behavior towards the authorities can give you a better chance for a favorable plea agreement if found guilty. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”I was arrested and then confessed to a crime. I was just nervous and didn’t know what to do. What should I do?” open=”no”]If you are arrested and initially confess to a crime, it becomes even more important for you to consult with a top-rated criminal defense attorney. In our years of experience, we’ve found that a guilty plea shouldn’t be your first and only option. The confession you have can be dismissed entirely depending on the circumstances, especially the confession was not made according to the law. The Blanch Law Firm can also take your situation into account and determine how to potentially negotiate with a prosecutor, and can also assess whether you have a chance of beating the case in court and having the charges dropped. The Blanch Law Firm can work with you on a personal level to determine the best option for you, even if you believe to have incriminated yourself.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How should I choose a criminal defense lawyer?” open=”no”]Before you commit to an attorney, it’s crucial that you take the time to meet with and get to know that person. Be wary of any lawyer that tries to pressure you for payment right away, especially if you haven’t yet had a chance to get all your questions answered. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of tough questions and be cautious of anyone who promises specific results. Some attorneys will make promises – promises they can’t keep – simply to get your business. An ethical attorney will explain what things they are going to do to help you, but they will never guarantee a specific result.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do I still need a lawyer if I intend to plead guilty?” open=”no”]Yes – absolutely. Even if you plan on pleading guilty to the crime you’re charged with, rarely is it a good idea to represent yourself. A top criminal defense attorney can try to negotiate a lesser charge or lighter sentence. People who attempt to act as their own lawyer typically end up with harsher punishments than those who have good legal representation[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?” open=”no”]The arresting police officer will most likely tell you whether you are being accused of a felony or a misdemeanor. Felonies are crimes that are punishable by more than one year in prison. Misdemeanors can be punished by a fine and less than a year of imprisonment. There is a misconception that the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is simply based on whether there was physical injury or violence as a result, or simply the severity of the offense. Certain crimes, even minor misdemeanors, can become a felony if you are a repeat offender. . Consultation with an experienced attorney will reveal all of the options you have in defending yourself and obtaining the best possible outcome.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”I am convicted of the crime while being on temporary visa in US can I be deported?” open=”no”]Yes, if you are not a citizen of the United States and are convicted of a crime, you can be deported.
Even if you are a lawful permanent resident lawfully living and working in the United States, this apples to you. You can be deported.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, if you, a non-citizen of the United States, are convicted of an aggravated felony, a crime of “moral turpitude” or any one of a number of listed crimes in a third category (such as violations of laws relating to domestic violence, controlled substances and possessing a firearm), you are at serious risk of deportation.
Unfortunately, in addition to the threat of being deported, a conviction may negatively affect your ability to eventually become a United States citizen.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What happens at an arraignment?” open=”no”]The arraignment will be your loved one’s first contact with the criminal court system. He or she will be known as the criminal defendant throughout the arraignment process.
During this process, he or she will be brought before a judge and informed of the charges against him or her.
A lawyer from the district attorney’s office, also known as the “prosecutor,” will be announcing the charges being brought against your loved one.
It is very important that your loved one be represented by an aggressive and effective criminal defense attorney at his or her arraignment.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is the difference between parole and probation?” open=”no”]Simply put, probation is a type of criminal sentence that allows you to stay living in the community rather than serve time in prison, as long as you follow certain rules, such as:
⦁ regularly reporting to a probation officer
⦁ refraining from alcohol and drugs and
⦁ not committing any further crimes
Parole, on the other hand, is when you are released from jail or prison into the community under the supervision of a parole officer before the end of your sentence. The rules or conditions for parole are similar to those of probation.
If you have violated probation or parole, you need an aggressive and effective criminal defense attorney on your side[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Does the quantity of drugs found on my loved ones matter?” open=”no”]The short answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” The higher the quantity of drugs found in your possession, the more serious the potential consequences.
More drugs implies that you may have had an intent to distribute the controlled substance.
Distribution or sale of controlled substances carries far heavier consequences and sentencing guidelines.[/su_spoiler]

PERSONAL INJURY/FAQs

[su_spoiler title=”How much do you charge?” open=”no”]A: For most personal injury lawsuits, we charge no fee unless you collect. We charge a one-third contingency fee. When the claim is resolved, we get reimbursed for our expenses out of the award. Next we take our one-third fee. For example, if an injury claim settles for $35,000, and we have $2000 in expenses, our fee is $11,000 (1/3 of $33,000). The client would get $22,000.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do you always pay the expenses up front?” open=”no”]A: Usually, but not always. There are two rare situations where we don’t. First, some personal injury claims are not very strong, but we might still be willing to work on a contingency fee basis. In such claims, the client will have to pay the expenses and we may also require a partial up-front fee with a reduced percentage on the contingency. The other situation is when there is a good offer and the client refuses to accept it against our advice. We would then require the client to cover all future expenses and reimburse us for past expenses before moving forward with the case.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What are typical expenses in a personal injury lawsuit?” open=”no”]A: In New York personal injury lawsuits, filing fees usually total less than $500. Deposition transcripts also usually total less than $500. The biggest expense is when a lawsuit goes to trial and we have to pay doctors and other experts to testify. We have paid anywhere from $300 to $7500 for a doctor’s time, and some doctors may charge more. Other expenses include process servers, investigations and medical records. We do our best to limit expenses. This is particularly important in cases with lower values. Once we won a $16,000 verdict. The main specialist had moved away and it would have cost $10,000 or more to bring him here. We went with a local doctor who charged only $1000. His testimony was excellent.
Some cases are more complicated and expenses are higher. Typical reasons why you might see increased expenses are the need for additional experts, such as for accident reconstruction, or where we need to have more than one doctor testify.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is the process?” open=”no”]A: First we usually negotiate with the insurance company. Then we file a lawsuit. For a few months we exchange paperwork with the insurance company attorneys. Next come depositions, where they question our client and we question theirs. This usually happens in a lawyer’s office. Other witnesses might also be deposed. Then the insurance company might have our client examined by their doctor (an IME, or independent medical examination). Last is trial. And rare cases have proceedings after trial, such as appeals or bad faith claims. A lawsuit might settle at any point along the way.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can a health care insurer be repaid from a personal injury settlement?” open=”no”]A: Yes, it’s quite common. Most health insurance policies now have language that allows the insurance company to be repaid for the amount paid out on medical bills if the insured person gets a personal injury settlement. Depending on the law in your state, your daughter may be able to deduct attorney’s fees and costs from the total amount owed to her health insurer.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I ask my lawyer for a copy of the settlement check?” open=”no”]Yes, and you should. As a client you have an absolute right to see a copy of the settlement check, as well as to review a copy of the settlement breakdown sheet before the check is deposited. Usually, the insurance company check has both your name and your attorney’s name on it, so you would typically have to endorse the check before it could be placed in your lawyer’s trust account. Ask your lawyer to provide you with a copy of the actual settlement check forwarded to him by the insurance company, as well as a copy of all checks written by him (which should total the full amount of the settlement).[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I break an annuity from an auto accident settlement?” open=”no”]A: Probably not. It’s difficult to “break” an annuity. The purpose behind an annuity is to have the insurance company pay out the settlement funds over time rather than in one lump sum payment. In your situation, because you were underage at the time of the settlement, your parents only alternative to an annuity would have been to accept a lump sum payment and put it in the bank for you. The interest earned over the past four years would have been insignificant compared to the interest earned placing the funds in a structured settlement annuity.
You could try to get a court to set aside the annuity, which doesn’t seem very likely. The only other alternative, which would not be wise in your situation, is finding a company that purchases structured settlements from personal injury victims. Usually these companies will pay you 20 to 50 cents on the dollar and purchase your right to future payments. You’ll be giving up a substantial amount of money if you choose this option.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can I gain access to my child’s settlement money?” open=”no”]A: A parent usually doesn’t have access to a child’s settlement funds. The reason for this is to protect children from parents who might use the money to benefit themselves, instead of the child. A court will generally place a child’s settlement money in a “blocked” bank account until the child turns 18. A court will sometimes allow withdrawals from blocked accounts if the funds are needed for the child’s care and well being, and the court is satisfied the funds will be used to benefit the minor. You and your lawyer should discuss what expenses might be paid for with the settlement funds.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Can my lawyer settle my case without my consent?” open=”no”]A: It’s possible that the retainer agreement you signed with your lawyer allows him to settle the case without your consent and sign the settlement and release agreement on your behalf. If your attorney settled the case without your permission, and you haven’t yet signed the settlement and release agreement, you should tell your lawyer that you don’t want to proceed with the settlement if you’re unhappy about it. If a check has already been forwarded to your lawyer, it’s a simple matter to return the funds.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What will I have to prove to win my case?” open=”no”]It is a complex process. Most of the defendant’s hire aggressive defense lawyers who work for the best interest of their clients. At trial, you and your personal injury lawyer needs to prove 2 things as given below:
Liability – who is at fault? The jury will assign the percentage of fault for each party involved. For example, if there was a collision involving two cars and both the drivers say the other one ran a red light, then the jury can believe one side and will put driver 1 at 0% fault whereas driver 2 at 100% fault. In some cases this percentage can get split in 50-50 or any other degree of fault. 
Damages – Along with the liability, you have to prove your injuries and losses. If there were any additional losses then you need to prove them as well. A medical report by an independent medical practitioner will help in establishing that you have suffered personal injuries. There are several cases where victims of minor brain injuries are not able to perform their work and it can seriously affect their future earnings. It can also increase future medical expenses. These issues need to be taken into considerations.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How would I know if I am having a good case? ” open=”no”]If you or someone close to you has sustained personal injuries due to negligence of some individual or authority then you usually have a case. Before you file a personal injury lawsuit you must consider various factors which can affect the outcome of your personal injury lawsuit. It is best to seek services from an experienced personal injury lawyer who will help you receive justice and compensation from the negligent party involved.[/su_spoiler]

REAL ESTATE/FAQs

[su_spoiler title=”What are some key issues for me to consider when reviewing a contract to purchase a home?” open=”no”]Few people realize that the purchase contract is the most important step in purchasing a home. The details of this agreement determine what you buy or sell and how you buy it or sell it. Before signing, read the agreement carefully and consider the following (not a complete list of issues but intended to give the reader a good start on things to consider):
⦁ Is the purchase contingent on matters such as the availability of financing on acceptable terms or the sale of the house which the buyer presently owns?
⦁ Exactly what land, buildings and furnishings are included in the offer? Are appliances, certain fixtures and other personal property included in the purchase price?
⦁ When can the buyer take possession?
⦁ Is the seller required to provide good, marketable title?  Marketable title is title that can be readily marketed (sold) to a reasonably prudent purchaser aware of the facts and their legal meaning concerning liens and encumbrances.
⦁ Who pays for the examination of the title to the property in the event the offer is accepted?  Who pays for the abstract of title or title insurance?
⦁ Have utilities been installed if the property is new construction?
⦁ Who pays for the cost of the survey of the property?  Does the lender require a survey as a condition of the loan approval?
⦁ What inspections are required by the municipality?  Which party will pay for the inspection? Will there be a home warranty contract paid for by the seller?  Should the purchaser conduct and pay for a separate home inspection?  What kinds of disclosures is a seller required to provide to a purchaser, and what happens if those disclosures are not provided?
⦁ If a mortgage is to be given, is there a tax or recording fee for the filing of the mortgage. If so, which party will pay that tax?[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is title insurance, and why is it needed?” open=”no”]A title insurance policy insures the status of title in the name of the owner of the policy.  Title insurance policies are issued by title insurance companies.  The title company contracts with the insured person named in the policy to protect against financial loss related to the title, as well as the cost of defending the title in court.  The title company searches and examines documents related to the ownership of and items affecting the property prior to issuing a policy.  It provides a source of indemnification to the named insured if he or she is damaged by a negligent or bad title search or examination and also from hidden defects that would not be discovered in a title search.  For instance, a title defect resulting from a forgery would not be revealed in a search or examination of the public records but would be covered by the title insurance policy.
Prior to issuance of the title insurance policy at closing, a title commitment will be prepared.  You may or may not be afforded the opportunity to see this document prior to closing, but you should make every effort to review it prior to closing.  You should make sure to have your attorney (if you have one) review it as well.  While there are many important parts to a title commitment, at a minimum you should be familiar with the following: (i) Schedule A identifies the type of policy being issued, the names of the proposed insureds and the current owners, and the legal description of the property; and (ii) Schedule B contains a list of items that must be satisfied in order for the title company to issue the policy of insurance and also contains a list of title matters (called “exceptions”) that will be excluded from coverage, such as statutory real estate taxes and easements for utilities servicing the property unless deleted from the title commitment at the time of closing.  If there are objectionable items in the commitment, you need to try to have them removed by the title insurance company before closing.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is an easement? What are my rights and obligations under an easement?” open=”no”]Purpose of an Easement.  An easement is an interest in land which is owned by a person who is not the owner of the whole parcel, such as the right to use or control a portion of the parcel, or an area above or below it, for a specific limited purpose (such as to cross it for access to a public road, to share a common drive with a neighboring property, or to install and maintain utility wires or lines).  The land benefiting from an easement is called the dominant estate; the land burdened by an easement is called the servient estate.  Unlike a lease or license, an easement may last forever, but it usually does not give the holder the right to exclusively possess, take from, improve, or sell the land.  Some common easements may include: (i) a right-of-way; (ii) a right of entry; (iii) a right to the support of land and buildings; (iv) a right of light and air; or (v) a right to water.  The owner of the servient estate is normally free to use his or her property as he or she chooses, provided that use does not impair the rights of the holder of the dominant estate to use the land covered by the easement.
⦁ Easements Benefiting the Land.  You may have an easement over someone else’s property for several reasons.  One of the most common reasons may be for access to a public right of way for a property which otherwise might be landlocked.  Check your survey or ask your title company if you are unsure of the purpose of any identified easement.  Also, make sure that every easement benefiting your property over someone else’s property is reflected with the legal description included with Schedule A of your title insurance policy.  One of the items insured by an owner’s policy of title insurance is legal access to the insured property.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Easements Burdening the Land.  If someone else has a properly recorded easement over my property, what are my obligations and rights with respect to that easement?” open=”no”]Your obligations to the party benefiting (dominant estate) from the easement over the property you are purchasing (servient estate) depend on the written agreement creating the easement.
If the survey of the property reflects a path labeled “easement” but no document is of record creating the easement, you will want to inquire as to where the surveyor obtained the information about this easement.  If the unrecorded easement is shown on the survey, the title company will likely list this unrecorded easement on your title policy as an exception to coverage. That means that if someone were to claim the right to use this easement, your title insurance would not pay to resolve this issue.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is the difference between a General Warranty Deed, Special (Limited) Warranty Deed, and Quit Claim Deed?” open=”no”]General Warranty Deed.  A general warranty deed guarantees the grantor’s good title before the conveyance, and that warranty continues after the conveyance.  The usual guarantees or warranties by the seller are: good title, freedom from encumbrance other than as specifically identified, and right of possession to the buyer as against all others.  The warranty includes any claims arising during or prior to the grantor’s ownership.
⦁ Special (or Limited) Warranty Deed.  A special warranty deed, sometimes referred to as a limited warranty deed (and some states may have a different name for this form of deed), provides less extensive warranties than the grantee receives from a general warranty deed.  Under a special warranty deed, the grantor warrants only against claims arising during the period of the grantor ownership but does not warrant against any claims arising prior to the grantor’s ownership of the property.
⦁ Quit Claim Deed.  A quit claim deed contains no warranties of any kind and conveys only the interest, if any, held by the grantor (for example, if the grantor actually had no interest to convey, the quitclaim deed would not vest any ownership in the grantee).  The quit-claim deed is not typically used for residential real estate purchase transactions.
⦁ Sheriff’s Deed.  A sheriff’s deed is a deed granted at the end of a mortgage foreclosure, in which the sheriff, under the order of the court in the foreclosure case, grants ownership of the property to the successful bidder at the sheriff’s sale.  These deeds are quitclaim deeds and carry no warranty because the bidder at the sheriff’s sale takes title “subject to all legal encumbrances”  including any flaws in the foreclosure procedure.
⦁ Fiduciary Deed.  A fiduciary deed is a deed granted by a trustee or other fiduciary (often a court-appointed individual or entity) who conveys title to property pursuant to that grantor’s authority under a trust agreement or as the result of a court-supervised proceeding.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is commercial financing in general?” open=”no”]Financing a property is the standard method by which individuals and businesses can purchase residential and commercial real estate without the need to pay the full price in cash up front from their own accounts at the time of the purchase. Financing for non-residential real estate is generally obtained from a bank, insurance company or other institutional lender to provide funds for the acquisition, development, and operation of a commercial real estate venture. Commercial financing loans are secured primarily by real estate and related assets owned by the debtor. Assets used to collateralize commercial finance loans, aside from the real estate, may include fixtures, equipment, bank and/or trade accounts, receivables, inventory, general intangibles, and supplies. Documents evidencing and securing the loan typically include: loan agreements, promissory notes, mortgages or deeds of trust, assignments of rents and leases, financing statements, environmental indemnity agreements, guaranties, subordination, non-disturbance and attornment agreements, estoppel certificates, and other ancillary documents.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What types of notes are used in commercial financing?” open=”no”]A cognovit note is a promissory note in which a debtor authorizes the creditor, in the event of a default or breach, to confess the debtor’s default in court and allows the court to immediately issue a judgment against the debtor. If the debtor defaults or breaches any of its loan obligations, the cognovit note also typically provides that the debtor agrees to jurisdiction in certain courts, waives any notice requirements, and authorizes the entry of an adverse judgment. Although the Supreme Court has held that cognovit notes are not necessarily illegal, most states have outlawed or restricted their use in consumer transactions and many states will not enforce them in commercial transactions.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is the difference between a mortgage and a deed of trust?” open=”no”]A mortgage is a document that encumbers real property as security for the payment of a debt or other obligation. The term “mortgage” refers to the document that creates the lien on real estate and is recorded in the local office of deed records to provide notice of the lien secured by the creditor. The creditor or lender, also called either mortgagee (in a mortgage) or beneficiary (in a deed of trust), is the owner of the debt or other obligation secured by the mortgage. The debtor or borrower, also called the mortgagor (in a mortgage) or obligor (in a deed of trust), is the person or entity who owes the debt or other obligation secured by the mortgage and owns the real property which is the subject of the loan.
In almost all cases, the law of the state in which the property is located dictates whether a mortgage or deed of trust can be used. Although a deed of trust securing real property under a debt serves the same purpose and performs the same function as a mortgage, there are technical and substantive differences between the two. A deed of trust is executed by the debtor and property owner, to a disinterested third person identified as a trustee, who holds the ownership of the property in trust for the creditor; whereas, when a mortgage is used, title to the collateral remains in the debtor, and the mortgage creates a lien on the real estate in favor of the creditor. In some jurisdictions, the deed of trust enables the trustee to obtain possession of the real property without a foreclosure and sale, while others treat a deed of trust just like a mortgage. In the latter jurisdictions, the deed of trust is governed by the law applicable to mortgages. The deed of trust requires the trustee to reconvey the property back to the debtor when the debt has been paid in full. Assignment of the creditor’s interest does not result in a change of trustee; instead, only the note or other evidence of debt is transferred and the new owner of the loan acquires the prior lender’s beneficial interest in the trust.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What is title insurance and do I need it?” open=”no”]Title insurance protects against problems in the title to your property. Mortgage lenders now require all borrowers to buy “mortgagee” title insurance that protects the bank for the full amount of the mortgage in case of title problems (such as Indian claims, unreleased mortgages, forgeries, etc.). An “owners” title policy protects the owner’s equity. Premiums are set by the insurance department and vary depending upon the amount of coverage required. It is paid at closing and is paid only once. However, upon refinancing, the new lender will again require a new mortgagee policy (to be sure there have been no intervening encumbrances). Discounts for the new mortgagee policy at refinance may be available, depending when the original title insurance policy was issued.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What are common Sellers’s expenses?” open=”no”]The seller’s largest expense is usually a real estate broker’s fee, which is usually 5 percent to 6 percent of the sales price. Rates cannot exceed 6 percent for residential closings, and are negotiable at the time a seller enters into a listing agreement with a real estate agent. The seller also has to pay a conveyance tax to the state of Connecticut equal to .5 percent (except when the property is worth more than $800,000 or when it is a commercial type of real estate). There is also a town tax equal to $1.10 for every $1,000 of sales prices. Typically attorney fees range from $400 to $600. There will be small recording fees.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What are typical expenses for the buyer?” open=”no”]Bank expenses fees including but not limited to processing fees, application fees, credit reports, tax service fees, document preparation fees, etc., are less than $1,000 in a typical transaction. Above and beyond that, there may be points. A point equals 1 percent of the mortgage loan amount. This may well be the biggest expense of the buyer. A buyer typically pays a title search fee that is approximately $75 to $175. Title insurance costs approximately $4 per $1,000 of coverage. Attorney fees for representing a bank are typically in the $400 to $500 range and for personal representation $100 to $250 range. Recording fees are typically less than $1,000.
In addition, many banks now require that there be an escrow for taxes and fire insurance, and this typically can be as much as five months’ worth of taxes, depending on when the transaction occurs. In addition to the tax escrow, the buyer reimburses the seller for the taxes prepaid by the seller. It generally works out that between the tax reserve and the amount reimbursable to the seller, a buyer pays seven months of taxes at time of closing.
The buyer also reimburses the seller at closing for fuel oil, and most fuel oil tanks are 275 gallons. The tank is usually topped off at time of closing and the buyer reimburses the seller for a full tank of oil. Last, but not least, the buyer may have to pay for private mortgage insurance which is sometimes paid for one year in advance. The amount of the mortgage insurance varies.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How does selling one’s house and buying a new house work?” open=”no”]Ideally, sellers sell their home in the morning and purchase their new home with the proceeds from the sale later that same day. An attorney working with the client will make sure that this happens in this sequence. Typically, a seller gives occupancy to the buyer at the time of closing. However, in some instances, the seller cannot give occupancy to the buyer (because their new home may not be ready for them to move in to). Under those circumstances, a use and occupancy agreement is entered into between the buyer and the seller at time of closing whereby a firm date is established for the seller to move out of their new home while paying a per diem rent typically based on the carrying charges of the buyer. In a typical use and occupancy agreement, there is an escrow provided and a penalty provided in the event the seller does not vacate the home at the agreed upon date.[/su_spoiler]

SOCIAL SECURITY AND SSI/MEDICAID/FAQs

[su_spoiler title=”Who is eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits (SSD)?” open=”no”]Many people think that Social Security is strictly a retirement program. Although most beneficiaries receive retirement benefits, many younger individuals get Social Security because they are disabled. If you are a working person who can no longer do your job because of an illness or injury, you may be eligible for disability benefits from Social Security. Please call us to discuss the facts of your individual case.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What does Social Security mean by “Disability”?” open=”no”]Social Security has a special definition for the term “disability”. It is very specific and is related to your physical and mental functional abilities to work. To qualify for disability benefits from Social Security, you must have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to keep you from doing any “substantial” work for at least a year, or you must have a condition that is expected to result in your death. This is a fairly strict definition of disability in order to receive benefits.
There is no such thing as “partial” disability from Social Security, unlike workers’ compensation or veterans’ disability. However, individuals who have been found only “partially disabled” under workers’ compensation or VA standards may also be eligible for Social Security Disability depending on your age and education. You should talk to a lawyer about your individual disability to see if you qualify.
Social Security’s rules are different from other plans or government agencies. So the fact that you qualify for disability from somebody else does not mean that you will qualify for Social Security Disability. Further, the fact that you have a statement from your doctor indicating that you are “totally disabled” does not mean that you will be automatically eligible for Social Security disability payments. You should speak to one of our attorneys to discuss the specifics of your individual case.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Are my spouse and my children eligible for benefits?” open=”no”]Yes. If your spouse or children are dependent upon you, they may be eligible for “Auxiliary” benefits in addition to the money you receive each month. For example, if you’re individual benefit paid you $1,000.00 per month, your wife and/or children could collect approximately $500.00 per month extra between them. Unfortunately, only you (not your family) are entitled to Medicare health benefits.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How long will it take to win my Social Security Disability case?” open=”no”]In the New York area, on average it will take anywhere between 6 and 18 months. Even with our office pushing the Social Security Administration to make a favorable decision as soon as possible, it usually takes Social Security three to five months to decide an initial claim. If your initial application is denied, it could take an additional twelve months before you are scheduled for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Law offices of Marina Shepelsky, P.C.will speed up your case by filing your claim immediately “online”. In addition, our office has had considerable success in shortening the time periods on appeal by persuading Judges to issue “fully favorable” decisions without the necessity for a formal hearing. These are called “On the Record (OTR)” decisions and alleviate the stress you may have about appearing before a Judge. Depending on the facts of the individual case, we can sometimes obtain benefits for clients months earlier simply by being more aggressive than other law firms and “advocates”.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”What types of disabilities can qualify me for Social Security Disability?” open=”no”]Almost any physical or mental impairment (or combination of impairments) severe enough to keep you out of work for 12 months. Some of the most common medical conditions we frequently win include cases involving:
⦁ Spinal disorders, including herniated cervical or lumbar discs, back and neck surgery, spinal stenosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, compression fractures
⦁ Depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ADHD, ADD, schizophrenia
⦁ Heart attacks, angina, bypass surgery, coronary stents, congestive heart failure, enlarged heart, aneurysm, valve disease, heart transplant
⦁ Diabetes, obesity, neuropathy, retinopathy, thyroid diseases, peripheral vascular disease, high blood pressure
⦁ Cancer (breast, bone, lung, abdominal, liver, pancreatic, testicular, ovarian, colon, skin, mouth, prostate, kidney, blood, prostate)
⦁ Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV, AIDS
⦁ Amputations, orthopedic injuries, shoulder injuries, knee injuries, knee replacement, hip injuries, hip replacement, multiple fractures requiring surgery, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), chronic regional pain disorder (CRPD)
⦁ Decreased vision or hearing, vertigo, tinnitus, stuttering
⦁ Asthma, emphysema, asbestosis, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
⦁ Chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, hepatitis, Ascites, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, pancreatitis, GERD
⦁ Kidney disease, anemia, leukemia, polycythemia, lymphoma, myeloma, Hodgkin’s disease, sickle cell anemia
⦁ Scleroderma, burns, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, melanoma, hydradenitis, skin cancer
⦁ Multiple Sclerosis, Seizure disorder (epilepsy), Parkinson’s disease, myasthenia gravis, brain tumor, ALS, Alzheimer’s, post-Polio syndrome, traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, early onset dementia
⦁ Substance abuse, alcoholism, prescription pain addiction, personality disorders, mood disorders[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Am I entitled to past-due Social Security Disability benefits?” open=”no”]Possibly. If you win your claim, in most cases you can be paid past-due benefits going back a maximum of one year from the date you applied for benefits if you were not working during this time. Your actual payments start a full 5 full months after your disability began, known as a “waiting period”.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”How do I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?” open=”no”]In order to speed up your application, Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP has been granted permission from the Social Security Administration to complete and file your application “online” through the Social Security website. The application process is long and complex. Uninformed or inaccurate information you provide to Social Security in your initial application may be used by Social Security against you to deny your claim. It is important to give Social Security full and accurate information at the initial application stage so you can be approved as soon as possible.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Will I be entitled to Medicare if I get SSD benefits?” open=”no”]
Yes. If you are found disabled and awarded benefits, you will qualify for Medicare 24 months after the date you became eligible for monthly disability benefits. This is another reason to apply as soon as you think you are disabled. Unfortunately, your dependents will not be eligible for Medicare even if you are.[/su_spoiler]

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