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Monday, April 15, 2019

Tips for the Immigration Interview

To become a U.S. citizen, you must either have been born in the U.S. or go through the naturalization process. To be eligible for naturalization, several requirements must be met, including residing in the U.S. for a specific amount of time prior to filing. Once you have determined that you meet all of the requirements for naturalization, you may complete the application and file it with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).

After reviewing your application, a USCIS officer will contact you to schedule an interview. In the interview, the USCIS officer will ask you questions specific to your application and may also ask more general questions. When preparing for the interview and during the interview itself, make sure to follow these helpful tips:


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Monday, April 1, 2019

Selling Your Business

The majority of businesses in the United States are small businesses. To understand the impact that small business has, consider the fact that small business generates nearly 60% of all new jobs within the United States. Amazon, Walmart, and other big companies often stand out with their massive revenues and employment numbers, but at the end of the day, the primary drivers behind the economy are small business.

If you have a family business or personal business that you’ve built up, you are likely one of these economic drivers. For many families and individuals, the business becomes an identity. Family businesses in particular are susceptible to acting as an identity for that family. Thus, for many small business owners planning for retirement, the question of what to do with the small business is a major stressor. For a family business, the transfer of control and ownership from one generation to the next can be incredibly complicated and strenuous. If it’s not a family business, then the question is primarily how to effectuate the sale and estate planning repercussions. The following sections will give an overview of general considerations for family-owned businesses and then general concerns relating to the sale of a business.


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Friday, March 29, 2019

Buying A House After Bankruptcy

It is no secret that filing for bankruptcy can harm your credit. However, compared to simply letting your accounts go past due for months on end, bankruptcy may actually be better for your credit over the long term because there are no repeated “dings” on your credit score. Getting the bankruptcy finished allows you to start fresh and begin to rebuild your credit rating.

Your credit score is closely examined when you enter the home buying process, which means  that filing for bankruptcy may affect your ability to purchase a home in the future. Even if your credit score is not significantly harmed,  a bankruptcy discharge will remain on your credit report for up to ten years. That type of history can make lenders nervous about your creditworthiness.  Nonetheless, it is possible to purchase a house after bankruptcy, but it may take some additional time and extra steps.


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Friday, March 15, 2019

The Fiancé Visa: The Basics

The K-1 nonimmigrant visa is commonly referred to as the fiancé visa. The fiancé visa exists to allow United States citizens bring a foreign fiancé to the United States to be married. To bring your fiancé to the United States, you must first file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. Once the Form I-129F is filed, it will be reviewed and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will likely request evidence or completion of any details that are missing or incorrectly filled out. After the petitioner (the U.S. citizen filing the Form I-129F) has responded to any requests for evidence or additional information, the USCIS will deliberate on the decision and then notify the petitioner whether the petition has been granted. Same sex couples should note that they can apply for a fiancé visa in light of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act.


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Friday, March 1, 2019

Removing a Trustee

Trustees are responsible for administering a trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. In some instances, multiple trustees may administer a trust as co-trustees. Occasionally, issues arise causing the beneficiaries of a trust or the co-trustees to pursue removal of a trustee. These issues could be general unhappiness with trust accounting or failure of the trustee or co-trustee to provide information when requested. In short, the grantor (creator) of the trust, co-trustees, the trust beneficiaries,  and the  probate court have the ability to remove a trustee

Reasons a Trustee Can Be Removed

The reasons for removal of a trustee depend upon the trust documents and applicable state law. Generally, a trustee can be removed for:


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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

What is an Administrative Claim in Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a system of debt relief codified in federal statute with its own bankruptcy court. Filing for bankruptcy is a legal process which allows the filer to reorganize debt, repay debts, and potentially extinguish debts. For individuals, there are two types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the traditional bankruptcy that comes to mind for most – by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an individual may discharge existing debts. For secured property, the individual must either pay off the amount owed for the property or forfeit the property. For dischargeable debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a way to eliminate it.  In essence, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is akin to starting over as you forfeit your non-exempt property (some property is “exempt” in that it is protected from forfeiture in bankruptcy).

Comparatively, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows an individual to reorganize existing debt and potentially eliminate  some dischargeable debt. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the individual is seeking to reduce  monthly payments to a sustainable level.

In addition to personal bankruptcy,  there are several bankruptcy options available to business organizations to help reorganize and repay debts. Regardless of who is filing the bankruptcy, the bankruptcy and following proceedings will incur costs. Administrative claims, more formally known as administrative expense claims, are the expenses incurred after the bankruptcy has been filed but are deemed to be necessary for the bankruptcy, the continuance of the individual’s estate, or the continuance of the business organization, and generally must be approved by the court.


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Friday, February 15, 2019

Deportation: Extreme Hardship and the 601 Waiver

If you have illegally resided within the United States (“U.S.”) for more than one year, you will likely receive a 10-year reentry ban. This ban means that you cannot return to the U.S. for a 10-year period. Similarly, if you have been deported for reasons of crime or immigration fraud, you will also receive a reentry ban, although this ban could be permanent in certain instances. If you have been deported, or are being deported, you may be able to claim extreme hardship and file an application for a 601 waiver. The 601 waiver may allow you to remain in the U.S. or legally reenter the U.S. despite being inadmissible.

When considering a 601 waiver application, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) policy manual requires the officers to “make extreme hardship determinations based on the factors, arguments, and evidence submitted. The extreme hardship must be shown in relation to a qualifying relative – not just to the applicant. A qualifying relative is a member of your immediate family (e.g., daughter, son, mother).

Overall, the USCIS officer must consider the totality of circumstances when determining the presence of extreme hardship. While there is no express identification of what constitutes extreme hardship, such circumstances may include:


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Friday, February 1, 2019

An Overview of Retirement Plan Options

Retirement planning is essential given ever-increasing life expectancies in the United States. Unfortunately, many Americans fail to save adequate amounts to make it through retirement. Often, individuals believe that they will be fine on Social Security. However, Social Security is only designed to compensate for 40% of your income; Social Security is designed to be an income supplement rather than a sole income source. To make matters worse, workers tend to overestimate how late into their life they will be able to work. Inadequate savings and an inability to work produce an exceptionally stressful retirement. Remember, it’s never too late to start saving.

401(k) Plans

401(k) plans are employer-sponsored retirement plans that offer tax advantages to investing. When investing through a 401(k) plan, you will declare how much of your paycheck you would like to contribute to the 401(k). The employer will then contribute the designated amount before taxes to your 401(k) account. The contributions made to your 401(k) account are non-taxable meaning that your taxable income is decreased by the amount contributed. As of 2018, the maximum amount that a taxpayer can contribute to a 401(k) account is $18,500. The tax advantages of the 401(k) plan mean that if the taxpayer earns $80,000 annually in salary and contributes $10,000 to his or her 401(k) plan, then the taxpayer’s taxable income for that year would be decreased to $70,000. When the taxpayer begins to withdraw from the 401(k) account, those withdrawals will be treated as taxable income.

However, money contributed to a 401(k) plan may not be withdrawn before the age of 59.5 without incurring a penalty unless certain exceptions apply. Unfortunately, not all employers offer 401(k) plans. If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) program, make sure to take advantage of other retirement plan options such as a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.


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Monday, January 14, 2019

An Overview of Illegal Reentry in the United States

Illegally entering the United States, or remaining within the United States without legal status, is a civil offense that carries penalties of removal and potentially fines. However, illegally reentering the United States is a criminal offense punishable by fines and imprisonment. The following sections will define illegal reentry, explain the penalties associated with illegal reentry, and identify common defenses to charges of illegal reentry.

What is Illegal Reentry?

Under Title 8 U.S.C. Section 1326, it is illegal for someone who “has been denied admission, excluded, deported, or removed or has departed the United States while an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal is outstanding, and thereafter,” to enter or attempt to enter the United States. Thus, illegal reentry is being in the United States after the United States government has taken an affirmative action to exclude or remove the alien.  


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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Who Benefits from an IRA Inheritance Trust?

Trying to unravel all the ins and outs of the estate planning process can make your head spin. Most people associate wills with estate planning, but there are so many more legal tools that can be put in place to help plan for the future health and financial well being of you and your family. An IRA inheritance trust is one such valuable legal tool that may be beneficial to you and your loved ones. Find out of an IRA inheritance trust should become part of your estate plan.

The majority of the time, the money held in an IRA account will be distributed to the person you list on the beneficiary designation form. This is one of the forms you will fill out when you open or amend an IRA account. Not many people are actually aware that you do not necessarily have to name an individual as the account beneficiary. You may list a trust as the beneficiary. This trust is what is referred to as an IRA inheritance trust.

When considering whether or not to utilize an IRA inheritance trust, you really need to think about who would benefit from establishing such a trust. This means considering who would be the designated beneficiary of the IRA proceeds. An IRA inheritance trust can be very beneficial if you are considering designating an IRA beneficiary who may:


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