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New York Family Law Blog

Is your executor willing and able to carry out your estate plans?

Life is full of tasks and conversations that one would rather avoid. Of all of these, the discussion over estate plans may be one of the most difficult but necessary conversations one will ever have in life. Though many New York residents would rather put the task off as long as possible, the sooner one sets up these vital plans and chooses a qualified executor, the sooner one can enjoy peace of mind.

Along with deciding how and to whom one's assets and personal effects will be disbursed after death, the next important consideration is choosing a qualified executor. This individual will bear the weight of ensuring that all of the steps included in the final plans are carried out as dictated. For this reason, it is important that the one chosen is a trusted individual who is intimately familiar with how to carry out all of the instructions.

Adminstration to deny visas to unmarried same-sex UN partners

The U.S. Supreme Court, in 2015, extended marriage protections to same-sex couples. Nevertheless, when it comes to same-sex partners, many countries refuse to give legal rights to these couples. Following a recent announcement from the current administration concerning enforcement of certain immigration policies, some same-sex partners in New York who are attached to the United Nations may face deportation.

The administration plans to enforce an immigration policy that only married spouses in a same-sex relationship will be granted visas. This ruling will directly impact U.N. representatives and employees who are currently in this country and are in a committed, though unmarried, relationship. The problem confronting many of these foreign diplomats is that same-sex marriage in their native country may be prohibited. 

Judge rules that cases concerning same-sex adoption can move on

The Supreme Court decision to extend constitutional protections to same-sex married couples has not ended the struggles that many of these families are still facing. When it comes to same-sex adoption and parental rights, there remains much work to be done. New York families have many protections under state laws, but there are still situations when these couples encounter difficulties.

Recently, a federal court judge ruled that a case filed by two same-sex couples regarding a state's contract with religious adoption agencies has merit and can continue on through the courts. The state filed a petition for the case to be dismissed, but that motion has been denied as the judge ruled that the petition for dismissal did not appropriately address the issue over which the lawsuits were filed. The suits are not filed over religious discrimination but rather over the state's decision to silently condone such discrimination through funding.

More same-sex couples benefit from marital agreements

Like many in New York and across the country, you rejoiced when same-sex couples received the right to marry. Finally, all couples had the same rights to a legally recognized and protected union. Perhaps you looked forward to the day when you would find someone to share your life.

If that day has come, you may be more than eager to exchange vows with this special person. You may be excitedly planning the event, from the caterer to the guest list to the vows. However, be careful not to skip an important element of your planning, and that is the drafting of a premarital agreement.

Investors in failed projects may worry about possible EB-5 fraud

Many New York businesses have benefited from the EB-5 visa program. This federal immigration program allows foreign nationals an opportunity to apply for a green card after investing in qualified development projects. Unfortunately, not every project comes to fruition, and some investors have been the victims of EB-5 fraud.

Recently, approximately 180 foreign investors learned that one of their projects is headed for an auction after the business failed to be profitable. It was called the Lucky Dragon casino, but it has not experienced the type of luck that the developers and owners were trying to market. It was billed as being built specifically for Asian clientele, though some say the location of the resort contributed to its downfall. It had its grand opening in 2016, but by January of this year, most of the amenities -- including the casino -- were closed, leaving only the 203-room hotel open for customers.

Change in estate planning designation can save more assets

The prospect of making final plans for one's assets and heirs may seem like a daunting task to many New York residents. However, with the guidance of experienced professionals, this chore does not have to be a taxing experience. In fact, with careful wording and deliberate distribution of certain assets, estate planning can ensure that the majority of one's wishes come to fruition.

According to financial professionals, the average couple tends to make a common error when they set out of formalize their final wishes. An example that was recently shared featured a couple who had saved approximately $1 million in an Individual Retirement Account, owned a home worth approximately $1 million and also maintained a savings account with an after-tax value of another $1 million. In an effort to provide for their heirs and contribute to a charitable organization, they may designate $100,000 of the savings account to be dispersed to a charity and leave the remainder to their chosen heirs.

The road to legal same-sex marriage was long with many u-turns

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court finally settled the legal question of whether gay marriage would be the law of the land. This ruling came after a long and winding route that the issue traveled throughout the many state courts. Though New York ruled that same-sex marriages were legal in 2011, even here, the issue went back and forth for several years.

The matter of gay marriage first came to attention in 1996, when then-president Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act, which stated that marriage was defined as a legal union between one man and one woman. This act effectively banned any recognition of same-sex marriages. However, just a few months later, Hawaii became the first state to offer legal protection to same-sex couples. Unfortunately, that decision was appealed just one day later.

New York investment firm alleges developers committed EB-5 fraud

There have been many projects completed in New York through the use of investments from companies that are affiliated with the EB-5 visa program. In most cases, the project is developed on time, and the foreign investors are assured of their rights to apply for a visa and seek permanent residency. Unfortunately, there have been situations where the developers committed EB-5 fraud, and both investors and loan companies are left to try and recoup their losses.

Recently, Advantage America EB-5 Group, which is based in Manhattan, filed a lawsuit against a development company. It alleges that it loaned the developers $5 million in 2015 for a condominium project that is now in default. The investment firm is associated with the EB-5 visa that allows foreign nationals to invest a minimum of $500,000 in exchange for the right to obtain a green card. The investment company is seeking repayment after alleging that the loan has been in default since last year.

Aretha Franklin reportedly died without leaving an estate plan

The beloved "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin, recently passed away from cancer at the age of 76. In the aftermath of her death, while fans mourn her loss, family members may struggle to divide her assets since she reportedly did not have any estate plans in place. Every state, including New York, has laws that dictate how these estates are divided in these circumstances -- but these laws cannot prevent litigation issues.

The singer reportedly died with a net worth estimated to be about $80 million. This figure likely does not include any other holdings or copywrites she may have held on her or others' musical projects. It is also possible she owned property and other assets that may not be included in that estimate. Since she died intestate, some financial professionals expect that her four children will be the heirs of her estate.

Guardianship of an adult child with disabilities

Any child may bring joy and heartache to a parent, and yours is no exception. Your child is unique, and you have watched him or her grow and develop over the years. You may have expected that at this point, with your child on the cusp of adulthood, you would be ready to release him or her into the world. However, things have not worked out that way.

Whether your child's disabilities became apparent soon after birth or your child was the victim of a tragic accident or illness, you know that he or she will rely on your assistance perhaps for the rest of your life. As your child turns 18, you have some important decisions to make.