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New York Family Law Blog

Investors sue developers, bank alleging EB-5 fraud over project

The establishment of the EB-5 visa was intended as a way of obtaining foreign investment capital for certain projects that met the program's parameters. In exchange for the minimum $500,000 investment, a foreign national who met the qualifications would then be eligible to apply for a green card. Many states, including New York, have benefited from this particular visa program though it has been the target of many EB-5 fraud attempts.

In 2012, a development corporation purportedly began soliciting foreign investors to help finance a 12-story hotel in a southern state popular with tourists. According to a recent lawsuit that has been filed on behalf of 21 Chinese investors, the development company and the bank involved in the project defaulted on the project. The investors further alleged that part of the deal they entered into included the provision that each investor would be granted a unit in the hotel as collateral.

Taxes are not the only reason to draft estate planning documents

It is likely that the majority of people who hear about the importance of setting up trusts or drafting wills believe that the main goal is to avoid estate taxes. However, there are many compelling reasons to choose to set up estate planning documents. New York residents may not be aware of the variety of purposes that these planning tools can fulfill.

One reason to set up a trust or a will is to ensure that one's final wishes are honored. If one dies without any plans in place, the state will then decide which heirs may inherit one's assets. In addition, these decisions will likely be accessible to the public, which may run counter to what was intended. Another valid reason to set up estate plans would be to plan for a possibly incapacitating illness or accident. These plans include naming trusted individuals to act as powers of attorney or as a health care proxies.

In spite of marriage equality, same-sex families still struggle

The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that marriage equality would be the law of the land. In spite of this landmark ruling, there are still pockets of resistance against same-sex families. New York has passed many laws that afford these couples protection, but even here, there are still incidents involving discrimination.

According to the most recent polls, the majority of American residents support same-sex couples. The trouble stems more from politicians and the laws and practices that some states are attempting to pass. In some circumstances, it is feared by advocates that children can be harmed by some state policies when a non-biological parent is denied parental rights or if a child is denied medical care or insurance due to policies that do not recognize same-sex partner benefits.

How do you know if the trustee is doing his or her job?

Many New York residents use trusts as part of their estate planning. This allows them to leave assets to beneficiaries without the need for them to go through probate. It also allows the trustee to make distributions at particular times or upon particular events.

One of the most important decisions a trust creator makes is choosing a trustee. The person creating the trust makes a decision with the information available at the time. Whether that person lives up to the trust creator's expectations comes later.

A divorce often necessitates several changes to an estate plan

The divorce process is often emotionally overwhelming. It is during this time that people must address multiple issues at once as their lives undergo major changes. New York residents who are in the process of divorcing may wish to review estate plans in order to ensure that one's final wishes reflect those life changes.

Setting aside the time to review estate plans will pay dividends and bring peace of mind in the long run. When one draws up these plans, it is likely that a health care directive and a power of attorney were part of the documents included. Since it is likely that the former spouse was the one originally designated to make these types of vital decisions, selecting a more appropriate individual may be necessary.

Some officials pushing for reforms to visa to prevent EB-5 fraud

The EB-5 visa was intended to raise capital in order to create employment opportunities and improve economic conditions in targeted areas of the country. In return, the foreign nationals who make the required investments are given a permanent visa and the opportunity to become citizens as long as they meet the program's requirements. Though New York developers have often benefited from this particular program, concerns over EB-5 fraud are prompting calls for revisions. 

Congressional members reauthorized the program without any changes when they approved the last fiscal budget. However, several lawmakers and other officials are pushing for reforms that have purportedly been anticipated since the last administration. There are proposals that would increase the minimum investment from the current $500,000 to a new minimum of $1.35 million. In addition, some demand greater government oversight in the selection of qualifying projects. 

Advocates believe same-sex adoption will be headed to top court

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality for same-sex couples would be the law of the land. Since then, there have been small pockets of resistance in a handful states in the form of passing laws that would allow some religious agencies to discriminate against same-sex adoption applications. New York does have laws that provide protections for these couples; however, many advocates believe that the issue will be headed to the top court for a definitive decision.

A recent decision from the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a baker could exercise his religious freedoms by refusing to provide services to same-sex couples. In its decision, the court stated that it was not a broader ruling on the issue of discrimination and only applied to this particular case. There are many who are concerned that this case could allow more agencies and businesses to claim religious exemptions that would lead to legal discrimination. 

Men trusted to help rebuild after Katrina indicted on EB-5 fraud

Hurricane Katrina will always be remembered as one of the most devastating storms. In the years since, some communities are still struggling to rebuild through investment programs such as the EB-5 visa. When these types of investments are misused through alleged EB-5 fraud, it can leave foreign investors living in New York and elsewhere with fears of losing their dreams of rebuilding their own lives.

A federal Grand Jury recently issued an indictment against two individuals who were entrusted to oversee several projects in one area hit hard by the 2005 hurricane. According to the indictment, the men, one of whom was a trusted armed forces aid in several presidential administrations, siphoned off millions that had been invested by foreign nationals. The men were contracted by city officials to construct a conference center and hotel as well as aid job growth in other areas.

Estate planning can succeed with follow-through and preparation

According to financial advisors, the vast majority of one's final wishes do not come to fruition. The two main reasons why estate planning fails are lack of preparation on the part of heirs and failing to follow through on plan details or updates. New York residents who are seeking to embark on preparing these documents may benefit from more information to ensure successful execution of their wishes.

It is estimated that more than 70 percent of estate plan failures are due to the actions and decisions of the humans involved. Most plans handle all aspects of tax planning and other executable actions with little to no difficulty; unfortunately, if heirs are not likewise prepared to handle inherited wealth and assets, they may quickly lose all that their parents worked to accumulate. Heirs often fail because they had no knowledge of the value of their parent's assets, or they were not educated on how to successfully manage those assets.

Steps to consider when facing a same-sex divorce with children

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality for gay couples, every state does not have uniform laws regarding other aspects of family law. When a New York resident is facing a same-sex divorce with minor children in the home, there are several matters to take into consideration. Taking proactive steps early may preserve one's parenting rights later.

One of the first steps to consider is becoming knowledgeable with every facet of state law that applies to same-sex families and parenting rights. Being informed of what protections are in place can provide a framework from which to continue to build a secure relationship with one's children, whether they are biological or not. New York does have more protections in place than many states; however, there may be unique circumstances that may apply. This is one reason why the second step may include consulting with an experienced attorney who is familiar with the same-sex marriage and child custody laws as they apply in each situation.