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New York Family Law Blog

There are ways to help lessen chances of estate litigation

While no one likes to ponder his or her own demise, there are times when careful consideration can save heartache and money for those loved ones left behind. While even the most careful plans cannot prevent all estate litigation attempts, having detailed documents in place can go a long way toward preserving one's legacy. Like every state, New York has laws in place that can help one plan effectively to avoid the probate process.

There are steps that may avoid the probate process in certain circumstances. While each state addresses these steps differently, in general, incorporating the appropriate ones may save loved ones from having to go through this often lengthy ordeal. The first tool that one may consider implementing is titling property as a joint ownership with a survivorship clause. When property is held in with this designation, it allows the surviving owner to retain ownership of the property without having to go through probate. There are several different types of joint ownership, and there are restrictions as to which may apply in a given situation.

Woman wants judge recused overs views of same sex relationships

In spite of the 2015 ruling that ensured that all marriages are protected, there are still officials who hold opinions that run contrary to that law. There have been some instances when judges have been asked to recuse themselves after their personal views regarding same sex relationships conflicted with a case on their dockets. While New York has laws that have protected the rights of same sex couples, there may be circumstances when a resident may fear that his or her rights will not be safeguarded.

In one state, a woman has asked that the judge overseeing her divorce step down from the case. She fears that he will not issue a fair ruling regarding child custody based on her declaration that she is gay. The judge is purportedly a pastor in addition to his duties as a judge and has stated that he believes same sex marriages are opposed to his religious beliefs.

Man sued over allegations of EB-5 fraud by SEC

The EB-5 visa program provides an opportunity for those foreign investors with enough capital the chance to apply for the coveted green card that may otherwise be unattainable due to immigration quotas imposed on selected nations. Unfortunately, not every investment project comes to fruition, and investors discover that they have been victims of EB-5 fraud. While many New York projects have delivered the sought-after results, there are other investors who may fear that they have been misled.

One man is now facing a civil suit filed against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The suit, which was filed in the latter part of last year, alleges that the man, who operated a consulting firm and solicited funds for the EB-5 visa, defrauded investors of more than $9.5 million. The monies were purportedly earmarked for various development projects on the west coast.

Obtaining legal guardianship when your child turns 18

If your child was very young when diagnosed with a profound disability, you may know no other way than that of providing every necessity for your child. On the other hand, if an accident or illness rendered your child disabled, you may still be learning how to provide what he or she needs.

One question you may have is what to do when your child turns 18. While technically an adult, if your child cannot care for him or herself, you may intend to continue providing that care. However, by law, you may have to seek guardianship over a legally adult child, even if that child is severely handicapped, in order to make vital decisions about medical care, finances and daily life.

State ordered to pay fees over same sex marriage litigation

Now that same sex marriage has been given the same consideration as a hetero sex marriage, some states have had to make adjustments in their laws. While New York recognized the rights of same sex couples to marry before the 2015 United States Supreme Court ruling, some couples had to pursue legal recourse to ensure that their rights were recognized and protected. Now one state has been ordered to pay fees over some of those lawsuits.

The order from the judge that this state must pay the attorney fees over litigation is not without controversy in itself. However, the order was the result of the litigation that was filed on behalf of same sex couples who were denied the right to obtain marriage licenses. The judge ordered the state -- not the county or the individual clerk -- to pay the estimated $224,000 because the employee was representing the state in her role as county clerk. 

Estate litigation between Tolkien and Warner Bros finally settled

Fans of the Lord of the Rings movies may have reason to rejoice in the days ahead. The estate litigation between the Tolkien family and Warner Bros. studio has finally been settled. Movie goers in New York and elsewhere may now have a future feature film to look forward to in the months ahead.

The lawsuit was filed in 2012 when the estate accused the studio of exploiting the rights to characters created by the author without express permission. The studio reportedly used likenesses of the movie characters in video games, online gaming and digital merchandising. In response to those allegations, the studio filed a counter-suit, alleging that it lost revenue due to the restrictions placed in its licensing agreements as a result of the original lawsuit.

Concerns over EB-5 fraud may lead to revisions or shut down

Hopeful immigrants have access to different visa programs when they are searching for the best fit for their needs. However, there is one that may either be revised or cancelled over allegations of EB-5 fraud or misuse. Many investors currently living in New York have gained their green card through this particular visa program.

The EB-5 Visa program allows a foreign national to invest in a development project here in the United States for a minimum outlay of $500,000. Once there is proof that a project provided a minimum number of employment opportunities for Americans, the investor is granted the opportunity to receive his or her visa. Ten years ago, the percentage of Chinese investors was approximately 12 percent. That number climbed to an estimated 82 percent as of last year.

Are you questioning the actions of your TOLI's trustee?

When your loved one died, he or she may have made you the beneficiary of a trust whose assets consist of one or more life insurance policies. Your loved one probably intended that the trust would provide for you for a long time. He or she trusted that the person appointed to serve as trustee would manage the policy in such a way that makes that wish come true.

The more time that goes by, however, you may suspect that the trustee may not take his or her responsibilities to you and the assets seriously or may not properly understand how to manage the trust. You may wonder whether the faith of your loved one in the trustee was misplaced.

Family law issues remain for same-sex parents who divorce

The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling in 2015 went a long ways toward settling the matter of marriage equality. However, there are issues that remain. In spite of the fact that same-sex couples are entitled to the same marriage rights, some family law concerns can still cause heartache and confusion for many of these couples. Like other states, New York has its own laws regarding the adoption of children.

When a same-sex couple marries, their union is now legally recognized in all 50 states. However, if that same couple decides to bring a child into the marriage -- even if the couple is married and both are listed as parents on a birth certificate -- not every state will give legal protections to the parents. Moreover, not every state allows for the same consideration to be given to a same-sex couple when they seek to adopt a child.

Selection of trustees may avoid trust and estate litigation

One of the most important decisions one makes is deciding on an estate plan that best fits one's needs. If setting up a trust is chosen, then the careful selection of fiduciaries to manage the trust may help offset the possibility of trust and estate litigation. In New York, an experienced estate planning attorney can provide ongoing assistance in this regard.

Civil lawsuits attacking trusts and estates are increasing. One reason is attributed to bitterness over an heir being given less than the heir thought was fair. However, the selection of the trustee may also trigger a lawsuit if the individual is reluctant to handle the financial responsibility along with the interplay with family or other beneficiaries. The person chosen as a fiduciary could be overwhelmed with the tasks of managing a trust over the long term. This can be exacerbated if the estate plan is overly complex or the trust terms are vague as to what the maker of the trust intended.