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Green Card 2017: Requirements and Benefits for Family-Based Immigrant Visas

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Unfortunately, immigration in 2017 has become a highly contentious issue. We are constantly confronted with tragic stories about roundups–those who have lived in the US for many years, holding steady jobs, owning businesses, paying taxes and raising their families—who are now being deported. Those competing for the highly prized H-1B visas may be finding their opportunities threatened or curtailed. Now, as never before, a US Green Card is a prized commodity. We don’t yet know the extent of immigration reform, but there’s no question that it is more difficult to gain entry into the US and to obtain a coveted Green Card. Immediate family members: visa numbers available, yet the process remains lengthy At DP Legal Solutions, we work primarily with families who sponsor their immediate family members to come to the US. The US government believes in uniting families. To that end, they make visa numbers available for immediate relatives of US citizens or Green Card holders. “Immediate relati…

Without Deed’s Joint Tenancy, Estate Ends up in Probate

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We help many clients transfer Deeds—it’s generally a simple process that we can accomplish quickly, sometimes in a day. The following example highlights the importance of what is called vesting, or the way in which title to a Deed is held. It seems like a small thing, but a Deed is the legal document that identifies the property owner. Without the title, it is impossible to buy or sell a home. And as our client discovered, she also couldn’t update her Living Trust. This is a cautionary tale, and unfortunately, we see this kind of situation all too often. “Sandra” came in to our office to update her Living Trust—something we recommend that people do periodically, with important life events. A physical therapist, Sandra had moved to the Bay Area from Boston ten years earlier to be closer to her mother, her daughter and grandchildren. She and her mother had bought a cottage in Oakland together, and she was delighted to be there for both her mother and daughter at this point in her life.

Transfer on Death Deed: Streamlining Succession Planning

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We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the new Transfer on Death Deed (TOD). This statute went into effect in early 2016. The TOD Deed allows Californians to sign a deed transferring real property to another individual upon their death. The deed is revocable until the transferor’s death. Eligible property includes: Condominiums.One to four residential dwelling units.A single tract of agricultural land consisting of 40 acres or fewer that is improved with a single-family house. Upon the death of the transferor, the TOD Deed transfers all of the transferor’s interest in the real property to the beneficiary. If there are multiple beneficiaries, the beneficiaries take the property as tenants in common (TIC), in equal shares. What’s to like about the TOD Many people are creating a TOD Deed for their homes or other real property and circumventing having to create a Living Trust. In these cases, their home represents the biggest share of their assets, so by creating a relatively s…

Estate Planning: Choose an Executor with Time and a Wide Range of Skills

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When it comes to estate planning, choosing an Executor should be an important part of the process, not an afterthought. Depending on the complexity of the estate, it can be a time-consuming, demanding responsibility, and the person who assumes this role should have a broad range of skills and be comfortable working with lawyers, accountants and investment professionals. The Executor’s role  Executors are responsible for settling estates. Families most often name one of their children to act as Executor, but it can be the family’s attorney or a fiduciary. A financial institution, trust company or bank may also serve as co-Executors with an individual, such as the decedent’s spouse, child, advisor or other person. An Executor performs five basic functions: Locates, collects and has responsibility for the estate’s assets until they are distributed to the beneficiaries.Determines and raises the cash needs for the estate.Pays the decedent’s funeral expenses, debts and estate administration …

Guardianship Case Study: An Intervention for the Best Interests of the Child

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These days, it’s not unusual for grandparents to end up raising their grandchildren. They take on this responsibility for a number of reasons—but in many cases it means that their sons or daughters are, at least temporarily, unable to care for their own children. An intervention: Daughter unable to provide a stable home for child Several months ago one such couple, Joe and Sarah, came in to our office seeking more information about getting a Guardianship for their ten-year old granddaughter, Zoe. As their only grandchild, they’d always been very close to Zoe, and now they were concerned about her wellbeing. Zoe lived with her single mother, Sandra, our clients’ daughter, who had been in and out of rehab facilities but was never able to remain clean and sober or hold a job for an extended period of time. Joe and Sarah were concerned about the lack of stability and consistency for Zoe; they were also concerned about the constant exposure to drugs, alcohol and Sandra’s friends. It was no…

Divorcing A Spouse Who Lives Outside the Country

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Given the diverse population of the Bay Area, it’s not unusual that couples get married, then one spouse decides to return to his/her country of origin or another country altogether. It can be for the same reasons that any couples get divorced, including a job opportunity abroad, and the other spouse does not want to accompany his/her mate. It’s not unusual that one spouse loves living in the US while the foreign-born spouse never adjusts to the American lifestyle. The divorce process itself is the same as for divorce within the US; however, the rules to serve your spouse with notice of the divorce proceedings are different, generally determined by the laws of individual countries. There are also a few caveats, including residency requirements and military serviceActive-duty service members are generally protected from divorce proceedings in most cases. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), U.S. service men and women cannot be sued or begin divorce proceedings while on act…

Trust Administration: Give Careful Thought to Selecting a Successor Trustee

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When creating a Living Trust, we encourage our clients to give careful consideration to choosing a Successor Trustee. Depending on the complexity of the estate, Trust Administration can take months, and it can require a significant time commitment. It also requires dealing with financial accounts, so it’s important to identify someone who is comfortable working with numbers. If someone has been named as the Power of Attorney and Agent for the Advance Healthcare Directive, it may make sense to name the same person as Successor Trustee—there’s a good chance by the time of death, he/she will already have some familiarity with the estate, which will help streamline the Trust Administration. Successor Trustee oversees the disbursement of the Trust The Successor Trustee will be in charge of overseeing the disbursement of the Trust–essentially taking care of the assets for those who have been named as the Trust’s beneficiaries. The estate may include savings and other brokerage accounts, lif…