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New York Family Law Blog

Investors can take action to help reduce risk of EB-5 fraud

There are countless foreign nationals who dream of obtaining a green card and beginning a new life here in New York or elsewhere in the United States. One popular avenue for seeking this opportunity is through the EB-5 visa. Though this program has had its share of allegations regarding EB-5 fraud, investors can take measures that reduces this risk.

Every investment comes with a certain amount of risk. However, when one is investing significant funds and the dreams of a lifetime, the fear of fraud becomes a serious consideration. Foreign investors are encouraged to thoroughly research both the potential project and all of the principals involved. The first step is ensuring an investment project is part of a Regional Center that receives regular oversight and not just approval from federal agencies appointed to safeguard the rights of investors and immigrants.

Alarming decision permits discrimination of same-sex adoptions

In 2014, a retail corporation protested a requirement regarding prescription coverage for employees. This protest claimed that religious freedom was being violated, leading to the U.S. Supreme Court to expand upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which grants corporations and individuals the right to refuse to abide by certain provisions if they are a violation of religious beliefs and tenets. This previous exception has now led to concerns that the rights of same-sex parents and others could be impacted in other states, including New York.

The fear of wide-spread discrimination stems from the decision to permit a foster care agency to refuse to accept clients who do not follow Christian beliefs. This decision was startling since the agency accepts federal funding. However, when the agency, Miracle Hill Ministries, refused to accept applications from non-Christian and same-sex parents, it violated the Health and Human Services mandates concerning discrimination. The state's Department of Social Services warned the agency that it could lose funding if it persists in discriminating applicants.

Judge confirms man's mental capacity; ends estate litigation

When one takes the time to establish estate plans, it is likely not anticipated that there will be any challenges -- especially before his or her demise. Unfortunately, there may be attempts on the part of disgruntled heirs to initiate estate litigation. New York residents who are concerned about such challenges may take steps to ensure their wishes are upheld.

Recently, a judge ruled in favor of one man's estate plans by confirming his mental capacity. Purportedly, 95-year-old Sumner Redstone, who owns the majority share of National Theater Amusements and is a major shareholder of CBS Corporation and Viacom, amended a trust that he established in 2003. His former girlfriend challenged those changes that directly affected her. She claimed that Redstone lacked the mental clarity to make such changes or to make decisions regarding his businesses.

There are financial advantages for same-sex couples who marry

Once same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015, it opened the door for gay couples to have the same advantages available to opposite-sex spouses. Though there are many personal reasons to marry, same-sex couples may also take the financial aspects into account when considering formalizing their relationship status. Though every state, including New York, has its own laws, there are many advantages available to married couples

One of the first advantages is the ability to give monetary or property gifts to one's spouse without concern over the federal laws regarding taxable gift amounts. Before the law was changed, any gift over the $15,000 was subjected to the gift tax. In addition, married same-sex couples now can choose to receive their deceased spouse's higher Social Security benefit amounts if they exceed the amount that one would receive based on their own earnings.

Custody matters have different challenges for same-sex couples

When you married your partner, you decided to start a family. While the relationship was good, you may not have considered the challenges that same-sex couples encounter when it comes to legal parentage.

Now that your relationship has taken a turn for the worst and you find yourself facing divorce, this issue has probably come to the forefront. Below are some issues you need to consider when it comes to child custody as a same-sex parent, especially since child custody laws across the country, including here in New York, continue to struggle to catch up when it comes to your divorce.

Investors alleging EB-5 fraud; seeking funds via federal lawsuit

The EB-5 visa program is classified as a type of employment-based visa that allows foreign investors an opportunity to secure a visa and then permanent residency. Though this visa has supported many successful projects here in New York, it has its share of critics. Many of these opponents state that examples of EB-5 fraud have tainted the visa program. 

Recently, 65 foreign investors sought reimbursement of their funding through the filing of a lawsuit in federal court. The judge in this case sent back several questions that need to be clarified by the state Supreme Court where the project is located. The judge stated that there is currently no set precedent for whether individual guarantors of a development company's loan can be named individually as being responsible for repayment of investments.

Estate planning cohesiveness essential to fully meet one's needs

Many people may think that estate plans typically consist of setting up trusts and drafting wills. However, there are many aspects of estate planning that should be carefully considered. New York residents who are contemplating tackling this vital task may be uncertain which documents they will need in order to provide a comprehensive estate plan.

One of the first tasks is to ensure that the main components of a plan -- which typically include revocable living trusts, wills, an advanced health care directive and a power of attorney --all form a cohesive plan. In many cases, a person may select different individuals to fulfill the roles of trustee and agent. In practice, a trustee manages the trust and the assets incorporated into it. The agent is the individual responsible for handling the personal finances and other daily affairs for an individual who may be incapacitated. However, there may also be another individual who will oversee the medical care of the grantor, including obtaining documentation from a physician, stating that he or she is legally incapacitated.

State residents fondly mark 5 years of same-sex marriages

A few years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that granted marriage protections to gay and lesbian couples, individual states were working on the issue. While some states such as New York were more willing to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, others were resistant to the idea. Residents in one state recently recalled the days leading up to the official recognition of gay marriages.

In this state, a federal judge ruled that the ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. In light of that ruling, couples were rushing to apply for marriage licenses since the state intended to appeal. In the days leading up to the holiday season, couples were worried that simply having a license would not be enough to protect their rights. Therefore many were holding weddings on the grounds of public buildings in order to marry.

Developers repay investors for alleged EB-5 fraud settlement

The EB-5 visa program was first launched in 1990 in order to allow foreign nationals an opportunity to obtain a green card in exchange for their investments in qualified real estate development projects. Several projects throughout New York have to come to fruition, thereby permitting many foreign residents an opportunity to make a new start in this country. While this program has been beneficial to both sides in the majority of cases, there have been numerous allegations of investors losing their monies due to alleged EB-5 fraud.

Recently, three separate development companies reached a settlement with the SEC over the monies provided by an estimated 90 foreign investors who feared that they had lost more than $49 million in funding. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that the developers who were accused of misappropriation of the funds were able to fully refund the investors. According to an investigation, the developers informed their investors that their monies would be used to complete an extensive mixed-use real estate project.

Agency seeks to prevent same-sex parents from adopting children

In 2015, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage protections were to be extended to gay and lesbian couples. Unfortunately, that ruling has not afforded same-sex families universal acceptance. Recently, an adoption agency filed a civil suit against New York state in an effort to prevent same-sex couples from adopting children.

The agency, New Hope Family Services, has enlisted the assistance of the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization that is known for resisting equality for same-sex families in civil cases. The adoption service is accusing the state of infringing on its rights regarding freedom of religion by requiring the agency to extend its services to all families. An investigation by the Office of Children and Families determined that the agency was purportedly refusing to accept applications from those who identified as being in a same-sex relationship.