Representation With Integrity

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does probate cost?

This depends and varies greatly based upon the size of an estate, the nature of the assets at issue, and the amount of prior planning. A simple estate can be probated for approximately $2,500. If the will is invalid, if there are contested issues, if there is out of state real estate, or if there are assets which are difficult to transfer, the costs can be much higher.

How long does probate take?

The average estate completes the probate process in nine months. The amount and complexity of assets, the amount of prior planning, and whether there are contested issues can prolong the probate process.

What should I do when a family member dies?

1. Preserve all assets of the Decedent until after the funeral.

2. Look for instructions that the Decedent may have left regarding preferences for funeral and burial arrangements. Determine whether the Decedent had any prepaid funeral contracts or if any special arrangements for the funeral are desired, such as military honor guard.

3. Contact a funeral home concerning burial or cremation arrangements.

4. While making the funeral arrangements, obtain certified copies of the death certificate. The number of certified copies you will need depends on the type of assets and/or number of accounts held by the decedent. Typically, ten certified copies will be sufficient, but this should be determined on a case by case basis. The cost of obtaining additional certified copies at a later time is significantly more than obtaining them initially.

5. After the funeral, conduct a complete review the Decedent’s financial documents and other important records. Particularly, look for the following:

  • Any estate planning documents, such as Wills and Trusts
  • Deeds to real property such as land, condos, or homes
  • Titles to personal property such as cars, trucks, or trailers
  • Safe deposit box agreement or keys
  • Social Security benefits and any other government agencies or benefit program that may be making payments to the Decedent. These payments need to be terminated promptly so that no funds have to be returned to the agency.
  • Nuptial Agreements
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Pension-retirement benefits
  • Military or veteran’s benefits
  • Recent tax returns, including income tax, business tax, and/or gift tax returns
  • Marriage, birth and death certificates
  • Divorce documentation
  • Computer records regarding books of a business or personal assets
  • Bank statements, checkbooks, similar documents
  • Promissory notes payable or receivable
  • Lease agreements
  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other investment account documents
  • Any documentation of business ownership or business interest
  • Health Insurance documents
  • Expenses related to final illness
  • Any unpaid bills

6. After the funeral, contact an attorney to begin the administration of the decedent’s estate. You should be prepared to discuss all of the items listed above with the attorney. The attorney will help you determine what type of estate should be opened, if any. Beginning the estate administration properly can save a tremendous amount of time and money, as once an estate is opened, it cannot be converted to a different type of estate, but must be administered completely.

 

Do I need an Immigration attorney?

Throughout the immigration process, a person typically comes into contact with multiple government agencies, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), U.S. State Department - National Visa Center (NVC), U.S. Embassies abroad, and the Department of Justice - Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR Immigration Court). An immigration attorney can guide a person through the interagency dealings to ensure that a person’s rights are protected and provide counsel on the types of relief and applications available to him or her. Immigration law is a complex area to navigate by oneself, and understanding it can be further complicated by language barriers. An immigration attorney provides counsel in various aspects of immigration law including, the process to become a legal permanent resident or a naturalized U.S. citizen, how to obtain employment, immigrant, and non-immigrant visas to the U.S., and help in determining if a person has any relief from removal when they are before the Immigration Court or if they are eligible for bond when they are in the custody of USICE. An Immigration attorney can also determine if a person has a right to appeal a decision from USCIS or the Immigration Court.

How can I obtain status as a legal permanent resident?

The most common way to obtain permanent resident status is by filing an application for adjustment of status with either USCIS or the EOIR Immigration Court. Typically, an application for adjustment of status is filed along with an immigrant visa petition that has already been approved on the person’s behalf, although there are times when a person can file for adjustment of status at the same time that an immigrant visa petition is filed on their behalf. There are also other circumstances that may arise, which allow a person to apply for adjustment of status on another basis before USCIS or file an application for cancellation of removal and adjustment of status in the Immigration Court. A person could also seek overseas processing at a U.S. Embassy abroad if they are eligible for an immigrant visa. Due to the complexity of immigration law, a person should seek advice from an attorney if they believe that they are eligible to adjust their status to that of a legal permanent resident or want to find out if it is possible to become eligible for adjustment.

Can I petition to bring a family member to the U.S. as an immigrant?

Anyone who is a U.S. citizen may file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of their spouse, child, or if the person petitioning is over the age of 21, a parent or sibling. A person who is a legal permanent resident of the U.S. may only file immigrant visa petitions on behalf of their spouse or an unmarried child. However, the person petitioning must be able to prove that the relationship claimed qualifies the relative within their visa category according to the terms of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.

I was just placed into removal proceedings before the EOIR Immigration Court. What happens at the first hearing?

A person is placed into removal proceedings when a Notice to Appear is issued against them. The Notice to Appear will state the allegations against the person and the charge under which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is seeking to have to person removed from the U.S. At the first master hearing, the Immigration Judge will read the allegations and charge of removability against the person and ask the person if they want to enter a plea or have time to hire an attorney. The Department of Homeland Security may also present any evidence that they have to support the allegations at this time if the person denies the allegations against them. If a translator is necessary at the hearing, the Immigration Court will provide one either in person or by telephone. A person may hire an attorney to represent them in removal proceedings, but the Immigration Court will not pay for the expense to hire the attorney. However, the immigration attorney can help the person determine if he or she has any relief from removal available.

Do I have a right to appeal?

If your petition or application was denied by USCIS, you may be eligible to appeal the denial to the Board of Immigration Appeals, Administrative Appeals Office, or EOIR Immigration Court; however, where you file your appeal depends upon the type of application and whether you have grounds to file an appeal.

If your case was denied by the EOIR Immigration Court and you have grounds for appeal, then you have 30 days to file your appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals. If your case is subsequently denied by the Board of Immigration Appeals, you may be eligible to appeal the decision to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that has jurisdiction over your case.

An immigration attorney can advise of any grounds that exist for appeal, changes in the law, and relief that was previously unavailable to the person at the time of their last hearing, as well as filing the required documentation to preserve a person’s rights on appeal.

Practice Areas

• Business Law
• Real Estate Law
• Probate Law
• Wills & Trusts
• Immigration Law
• Family Law
 

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