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Monday, March 20, 2017

Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Life

Children who are born with significant disabilities or birth defects often experience pain and suffering, and caring for them can be an emotional and financial burden for the parents. Today, medical advances allow medical professionals to conduct genetic tests on parents to determine if they are carrying certain genes as well as prenatal tests to determine if those genes have been passed on to the unborn child.

Wrongful Birth

When a serious condition is identified, the parents have the option to terminate the pregnancy. If a medical processional fails to properly diagnose a child or provide reasonable genetic counseling about the risks of a birth defect to the parents, they may be able to pursue a wrongful birth lawsuit. In order to have grounds for a lawsuit, the parents must show that they would have terminated the pregnancy or would have elected not to conceive had they known of the potential risk.

In a successful wrongful birth claim the parents may be awarded damages that are directly related to the birth defects, such as the cost of caring for the child. Although wrongful birth is a valid claim is some states, it is not recognized by all.

Wrongful Life

A wrongful life suit can also be filed by a child who has suffered with severe birth defects due to a negligent diagnosis.Elements similar to those for wrongful birth need to be proven in a wrongful life claim, but many states do not recognize these claims.  Moreover, courts have been hesitant to award damages in these cases due the complexities associated with determining an appropriate amount of compensation.

Ultimately, wrongful birth and wrongful life claims involve complex legal and ethical issues, and pursuing these claims can be an emotional burden for the parents. If you are struggling to care for a child with special needs, an experienced personal injury attorney can help determine whether you have a valid claim.

 


Monday, March 13, 2017

What are the restrictions on an H2A visa?

 

The H2A visa is available for employers to bring in foreign nationals in order to fill temporary agricultural jobs. A prospective employer must make an application on the employee’s behalf by filling out form I-129. In order to obtain an H2A visa, the employer must be able to stipulate that the position to be filled is temporary or seasonal in nature and that there are not sufficient American citizens willing, able, and qualified to perform the temporary work. Furthermore, the employment of foreign nationals must not adversely affect the wages or working conditions of American workers. In addition, the petitioner must be in possession of a temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The issuance of H2A visas is limited to nationals from 68 approved countries.  An individual may stay in the United States and work under the temporary visa only for the period of time authorized in the employer’s temporary labor certification, which varies from one employer to another.  If the need for employees is greater than anticipated, an employer may apply for an extension for his or her employees under the H2A program. Each extension lasts one year and the maximum stay permitted under this classification is three years. After this, in order to reapply for H2A status, an individual must leave the United States for 3 uninterrupted months before being allowed to return to work in the United States.  Employers are responsible for providing adequate housing for the workers and to provide transportation to and from the workers’ home countries. There is no cap on the number of H2A visas available annually or on the number of H2A visas allowed for any particular country.

H2A recipients are not residents and they are not immigrants.  There is no path to a green card with a H2A visa. Recipients are required to work during their stay. If their employment ends for any reason, their visa expires. They may leave the country and return, but only if authorized by their employer. If they desire to bring family members with them into this country, they must apply separately for an H4 visa. Family members who are recipients of such H4 visas, however, are not permitted to work during their stay in the United States.

It is not only desirable, but also necessary, to consult with an experienced immigration attorney well versed in the complexities of immigration law before submitting an application. Without such assistance, it is extremely difficult to fully understand the limitations and restrictions on any type of visa.


Monday, February 20, 2017

What happens when a creditor doesn’t comply with the automatic stay in bankruptcy?


When a bankruptcy petition
is filed in the United States, the bankruptcy court issues an automatic stay on all collection activities against the individual who filed the petition. This means that any person or company who holds a debt against the petitioner is prohibited from seeking payment of the debt in any form or from repossessing the asset against which the debt is leveraged. This is designed to preserve the role of the bankruptcy court to consolidate and liquidate a petitioner’s assets as necessary to make creditors whole, as well as its responsibility to discharge certain debts at the end of a bankruptcy.

When a creditor continues to make collection efforts after an automatic stay has been granted, it can be penalized by the bankruptcy court. The court may award a bankruptcy petitioner punitive damages and attorney’s fees for the creditor’s noncompliance with the stay. In order to do this, a petitioner must advise his or her attorney of the violation and ask to file a motion to enforce the stay. The more flagrant the violation, the more money might be awarded in punitive damages. A single collection call is less flagrant than the filing of a lawsuit to collect the owed amount. It is not necessary to send notice of the bankruptcy to the creditor, as all creditors are notified by the bankruptcy court at the inception of each case. If the collection attempt was made by a third-party debt collector, an attorney might be able to make a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or the FDCPA.

There are many cases , however, when such a motion will not be successful. Sometimes, a creditor asks the court for permission to lift the stay where the debt owed is secured and a debtor is behind on payments. If proper paperwork is not completed within 30 days of a petitioner’s filing, the automatic stay may be lifted without any requests being filed with the court. A specific request for the stay to continue must be filed for some petitioners who have previously filed for bankruptcy. Court actions for child support, alimony, taxes, and certain evictions may proceed even though a stay was issued. 


Monday, February 13, 2017

Responsibilities and Obligations of the Executor/ Administrator

 

When a person dies with a will in place, an executor is named as the responsible individual for winding down the decedent's affairs. In situations in which a will has not been prepared, the probate court will appoint an administrator. Whether you have been named  as an executor or administrator, the role comes with certain responsibilities including taking charge of the decedent's assets, notifying beneficiaries and creditors, paying the estate's debts and distributing the property to the beneficiaries.

In some cases, an executor may also be a beneficiary of the will, however he or she must act fairly and in accordance with the provisions of the will. An executor is specifically responsible for:

  • Finding a copy of the will and filing it with the appropriate state court

  • Informing third parties, such as banks and other account holders, of the person’s death

  • Locating assets and identifying debts

  • Providing the court with an inventory of these assets and debts

  • Maintaining any assets until they are disposed of

  • Disposing of assets either through distribution or sale

  • Satisfying any debts

  • Appearing in court on behalf of the estate

Depending on the size of the estate and the way in which the decedent's assets were titled, the will may need to be probated. If the estate must go through s probate proceeding, the executor must file with the court to probate the will and be appointed as the estate's legal representative.

By doing so, the executor can then pay all of the decedent's outstanding debts and distribute the property to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. The executor is also is also responsible for filing all federal and state tax returns for the deceased person as well as estate taxes, if any. Lastly, an executor may be entitled to compensation for the time he or she served the estate. If the court names an administrator, this individual will have similar responsibilities.

In the end, being name an executor or appointed as an administrator ultimately means supporting the overall goal of distributing the estate assets according to wishes of the deceased or state law. In either case, an experienced probate or estate planning attorney can help you carry out these duties.


Monday, February 6, 2017

An Overview of Non-Immigrant Visas

Below is a list of all the various types of non-immigrant visas:

H-1B: Temporary professional workers for a specialty occupation

           with at least a 4 year bachelor’s degree. Maximum stay of 6 years,

           but can lead to permanent residency.

H-2B: Seasonal workers permitted to enter the country for a short time

           to fill a need when American labor is unavailable.

H-4: Spouses and children of H-1B and H-2B immigrants are permitted

        to enter the country under an H-4 visa but are not allowed to work.

K-1: For the fiancé[e] of a U.S. citizen where the marriage will occur within 90 days.

K-3: For the spouse of a U.S. citizen while the application for a green card is pending.

L-1A/B: An international company with an existing presence in the United States

              may transfer a foreign employee to a local office with one of these visas.

             The L-1A is for executives, and the L-1B is for individuals with specialized knowledge.

             Spouse and children of employee may enter the U.S. on an L-2 but may not work.

O-1: Limited to individuals with extraordinary ability in arts, science, education, business,

        or athletics, with a record of great achievement and indisputably at the top of their field.

O-2: Assistants to O-1 visa holders in artistic or athletic events.

O-3: For the spouses and children of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder.

R-1: Religious workers entering the country on a temporary basis

R-2: For spouses and children of those entering the country with an R-1 visa.

TN-1/2: For Canadian (TN-1) and Mexican (TN-2) nationals to work in specific occupations

              These visas have strict educational requirements. The spouses and dependents of these

              individuals must apply for TD visas to enter the country.

A-1/2/3: For diplomats, government officials, their families and attendants.

B-1: For individuals entering the United States who are briefly visiting for business purposes.

B-2: For individuals briefly visiting the United States for pleasure -- also called tourist visas.

C: For travelers passing through the United States who don’t intend to enter the United States.

F-1: For individuals engaged in a full course of study at a U.S. institution -- also called student

        visas. Individuals are not permitted to work when in the country on this visa. Spouses and

        children of F-1 visa recipients must apply for F-2 visas to enter the country.

J-1: For individuals participating in visitor exchange programs. Spouses and children of J-1

       recipients must apply for J-2 visas to enter the country.

Q-1: Participants in international cultural exchange programs apply for this visa.

T: A person who has been a victim of human trafficking who cooperates with law enforcement

    in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking is eligible for this visa.

U: This visa is for victims of criminal activities who seek police protection from

     a qualifying crime.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

What is Pre-bankruptcy Credit Counseling?


Today, individuals who are seeking relief under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code are required to complete credit counseling with an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee's office. The purpose of pre-bankruptcy credit counseling is to determine if the debtor qualifies for bankruptcy or whether an informal payment plan is a better option.

In any event, credit counseling is necessary even if a payment plan is not feasible.
Read more . . .


Sunday, January 15, 2017

How to Enforce a Child Support Order


As many can attest, going through a divorce can be a difficult experience and the process can become contentious. Even after the spouses reach a settlement, conflict may continue to arise, particularly when a parent fails to make the required child support payments. In these cases, it may be necessary to take legal action to


Read more . . .


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Common Types of Will Contests


The most basic estate planning tool is a will which establishes how an individual's property will be distributed and names beneficiaries to receive those assets. Unfortunately, there are circumstances when disputes arise among surviving family members that can lead to a will contest. This is a court proceeding in which the validity of the will is challenged.

In order to have standing to bring a will contest, a party must have a legitimate interest in the estate. Although the law in this regard varies from state to state, the proceeding can be brought by heirs, beneficiaries, and others who stand to inherit.
Read more . . .


Monday, December 26, 2016

What Happens to My Car When I File Chapter 7?

If an individual filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy owns an automobile, that vehicle may become the property of the bankruptcy estate used for the purpose of making creditors whole. If the car has a lean on it from the lending institution, the loan must be reaffirmed or redeemed, or the vehicle must be surrendered.  If the loan is reaffirmed, the individual who took out the loan must sign a contract agreeing to continue making payments to the lender. The car loan will be unaffected by the bankruptcy, and the debt will not be discharged. An individual in bankruptcy may use the opportunity to renegotiate the terms of the loan for his or her benefit, though the new agreement must be approved by the bankruptcy court. 

When an individual chooses to satisfy a car loan through redemption, that person must work with the lender to determine the current value of the automobile. The individual must pay the lender that amount, thereby settling the debt for less than its full value. If a person is not able to meet either of these sets of conditions, the car must be surrendered to the bankruptcy estate and the debt associated with it will be discharged. The creditor cannot take the car until after the bankruptcy is completed unless it files a motion with the court to repossess the vehicle earlier.

If there is no loan on the car, a bankruptcy petitioner still has options available. Both federal and state rules allow individuals to exempt personal possessions and motor vehicles up to a maximum value from the bankruptcy estate. If a bankruptcy petitioner is able to declare the entire value off the car as exempt or if the non-exempt value is negligible, the bankruptcy trustee will allow the petitioner to keep the car. If an automobile in bankruptcy is worth significantly more than the amount allowed by the exemption, the petitioner may pay the trustee the balance between the value of the car and the exempt portion. Althernatively, the petitioner may surrender the automobile to the bankruptcy trustee who will sell it and return the exempt portion to the petitioner. In any case, the petitioner has the right to decide what should happen to his or her car.


Monday, December 12, 2016

The Revocable Living Trust

There are many benefits to a revocable living trust that are not available in a will.  An individual can choose to have one or both, and an attorney can best clarify the advantages of each.  If the person engaged in planning his or her estate wants to retain the ability to change or rescind the document, the living trust is probably the best option since it is revocable. 

The document is called a “living” trust because it is applicable throughout one's lifetime.  Another individual or entity, such as a bank, can be appointed as trustee to manage and protect assets and to distribute assets to beneficiaries upon one's death. 

A living trust will also protect assets if and when a person becomes sick or disabled.  The designated trustee will hold “legal title” of the assets in the trust.  If an individual wants to maintain full control over his or her property, he or she may also choose to remain the holder of the title as trustee. 

It should be noted, however, that the revocable power that comes with the trust may involve taxation. Usually, a trust is considered a part of the decedent’s estate, and therefore, an estate tax applies.  One cannot escape liability via a trust because the assets are still subject to debts upon death.  On the upside, the trust may not need to go through probate, which could save months of time and attorneys' fees. 

The revocable living trust is contrary to the irrevocable living trust, in that the latter cannot be rescinded or altered during one's lifetime.  It does, however, avoid the tax consequences of a revocable trust.  An attorney can explain the intricacies of other protections an irrevocable living trust provides. 

Anyone who wants to keep certain information or assets private, will likely want to create a living trust.  A trust is not normally made public, whereas a will is put into the public record once it passes through probate.   Consulting with an attorney can help determine the best methods to ensure protection of assets in individual cases.   


Monday, December 5, 2016

Immigration Issues in Intercountry Adoption

When a child is adopted from a foreign country, that child must go through the immigration process through the United States Customs and Immigration Service like any other person. The child must be eligible for adoption under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. If a child is adopted from another country and is deemed ineligible, that child will not be permitted to immigrate to the United States. A child under the age of 16 who has resided with his or her adoptive parents for two years may apply for entry under an I-130 petition. This is rarely utilized because of the requirement that the adoptive parent live abroad for two years. Most adoptions are done through one of two processes depending on the country of origin of the child being adopted.

If the child being adopted is from a country that is a party to the Hague Convention, the prospective parents must seek adoption through an approved service provider. They will have to fill out form I-800A to determine whether they are eligible to adopt a child from a foreign country. They will be fingerprinted and undergo a background check and a home study.  The child’s country of origin will then examine your credentials and match you with a child. This process can take months or years. At this point, the prospective parents will meet with the child and decide whether or not to continue the adoption process. The prospective parents must then fill out form I-800 to confirm that the child is eligible to immigrate to the United States, and form DS-260 to request that the child be permitted to immigrate. If everything is in order, the US Consulate will provide a letter confirming the child will be permitted to immigrate to the US. At that time, the adoption process must be completed in the child’s country of origin and prospective parents will receive a copy of the child’s birth certificate, the Hague Adoption Certificate, and an IH-3 visa. If the adoption process will be completed in the United States, the child will be issued an IH-4 visa until the time the adoption process is completed and the parents must also complete form N-600.

In countries which were not parties to the Hague Convention, the process is simpler. The child must be an orphan, or the surviving parent(s) must be unable to care for the child and acknowledge their abandonment of their parental rights in writing. The prospective parents must file form I-600 and apply for an IR-3 or IR-4 visa.


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