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Estate Plan Blog

Oak Lawn Estate Planning
Estate Planning Blog that talks about Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney. This blog provides tips for speaking with an attorney about planning your estate. Information includes what questions to ask you lawyer about your Will and what questions your lawyer should ask you.


Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Medicaid Smart Bill

From the ISBA


Legislation: "SMART" bill

The General Assembly is grappling with a $2.7 billion Medicaid funding gap in the as of yet unpublished "SMART" bill. One of the pieces in it may be a reversal of the Medicaid eligibility rules in the compromise last fall between the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. An excellent and comprehensive summary of that compromise may be found in the January 2012 Illinois Bar Journal (Diana Law and William Siebers). Some of these changes may include the following: (1) A home held in a trust, even an individual’s personal revocable living trust, shall no longer be considered homestead property. (2) People over the age of 65 can no longer participate in a federally created OBRA Pooled Trust. (3) A healthy spouse still living at home will receive only the minimum resource allowance instead of the maximum allowance as previously approved by JCAR. Whatever action the General Assembly may take on this issue will occur in the next ten days, and well try to keep you informed to the extent we can.

Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Want to Avoid Estate Taxes? Move!
So you know you may have to pay estate taxes but are not sure how to minimize them. I would bet you did not consider that changing residency would be one of the best options you have. You may not know that there are two different types of Estate Taxes that are due upon your death. First there is the Federal Estate Tax. This tax is a national tax that applies to individuals in every state. On top of the Federal Estate Tax, each state has their own State Estate Tax. On top of these taxes, there is also exemptions for each state and for the Federal Tax. As you may be aware of, the current Federal Estate Tax Exemption is $5,000,000.00. This means that you can have an estate that is less than $5,000,000.00 and have no Federal Estate Tax liability. There is a different exempt amount for Illinois Estate Tax. The Illinois Exemption is $3,500,000.00. This means that if your estate falls in the 1.5 million dollar gap, you will only be liable for Illinois Estate Tax.

How does this translate into financial terms. Assume that a married couple have a 10 million dollar estate. They would owe $704,316.00 in Illinois Taxes because of the gap between the Federal and State Estate Tax. In order to avoid this Estate Tax Gap, it might be wise to declare your residential status in another state. In order to do that though, you will need to spend less than nine months in Illinois. If you spend more than none months in the state, there is a presumption that you are a resident.

I know that this may seem like an extreme solution, but it is a viable solution for some who do not want to give almost three-quarters of a million dollars to the Illinois Government. For more information on how to avoid Estate Taxes, call the Estate Planning Attorneys at:

Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
708-529-7794

Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Not Planning May Now Cost You More
There is a new law in the Illinois Legislature that is a cause for great concern. Currently, It is entitled Senate Bill 2894. This bill, if passed, will raise the costs of opening a probate in the state of Illinois. Currently, there is an identical bill  in the house, House Bill 4985. This is just one more way the bankrupt Illinois government is taking money without getting a lot of "guff" about it. Dead people dont do a lot of complaining. Their heirs may complain, but most think of anything they receive from the estate as a windfall; this way they dont mind that they get a few hundred dollars less in their inheritance. The claim is that the money from these fees will go to the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission. This is a state agency though. Why is this agency not simply being funded by our regular taxes? The answer is that the agency is funded by our regular taxes. The government simply want to slate those taxes to their own pork projects and ave this agency solely funded by additional fees.

What does this do to those who have to pay the fee. People will simply not probate their relatives estates. This is not the incentive that you want to create. Large estates will not care about this fee, but the smaller estates will choose to avoid doing the right thing. This is a horrible policy for the legislature to implement and should be voted down with little thought.

How big is this Commission? All we can go on is the 2008 report, because nothing newer has been posted on their webpage. In 2008, $8,868,700 were slated to the commission. According to their report, $9,218,360 was spent by the commission. Why worry though, this was only a 4% overage. We know what Illinois legislature intends to do about it. This is not to say that the commission does not do good things for the community. Their expenses are simply not needed for many of the things they do.

Lets break down how they summarize their services. The Guardianship and Advocacy Commission states  that they they handled 5,377 inquiries through its intake unit. If we estimate 250 work days a year, and we figure out how many inquires this means daily, it averages to about 21.5 inquires a day. Let us pretend  that there are two workers on this task. This is only 11 questions a day per worker. Assume that each worker makes $60,000.00 per year. This $120,000.00 is almost nothing for one of the four major things this agency does. The commission lists four bullet points to summarize their work. These questions sum up one of the bullet points. Certainly, this bullet point did not take up all the money expended.

The Guardianship and Advocacy Commission served as guardian for 4,964 wards for the year. They claim to have visited wards 17,882 times throughout the year. Even if they charged $300.00 per visit, this only adds up to $5,364,600. This allows for one hour travel time each way and a one hour visit at $100.00 an hour. Keep in mind, many of their visits are done by volunteers, so these visit only cost the training of the volunteer.

Finally, the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission states that they had 7,225 court appointed clients. If we use up the remaining money that they are slotted, this leaves two and a half hours of legal time for each client they serve. The Guardianship and Advocacy Commission also claims that their attorneys help with social security applications as well. This is completely unnecessary  because traditional attorneys help applicants with these applications for no up front costs. They get paid a portion of the benefits if their win the application. Why have taxpayer dollars go to this process?

There is no doubt that this agency does some good work, but strapping on another cost to probate clients to feed another governmental machine is not the answer. The Illinois legislature needs to stop taxing people to keep their large agencies feed.

Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Wills Must Be Probated


 This is a news flash to most people, "A Will must be Probated!" Most people think that if they simply have a Will, they will not need their estate probated. This is a common misconception with the general public. Although many people do not have their will probated, without an official closing of their estate by the court, there estate remains in an open state. Additionally, without probate the assets of the Estate, even if distributed, are always available to creditors. A probate attorney will have to take a number of steps to get an estate ready for probate. This ranges from getting the names and addresses of all family members within a certain range from the decedent. Additionally, the probate attorney will have to gather the addresses of all creditors of the estate. He will then take that information along with some other forms to court, along with the Will, so that the judge can determine if an estate should be opened and the Will admitted. This probate of a Will process has some advantages, but it also is an expensive task.

Now that you know that Wills must be probated, what should you do next? You should contact an Estate Planning Attorney to advise you on the best plan for you. You may be better served with a trust to dispose of your assets. Generally, a trust is cheaper over all than the cost to have a will drafted and then probated. You can find out more in my article, "What Does a Will Cost?"  To speak to a knowledgeable attorney for free about your plan, call;

Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
708-529-7794

Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Special Circumstances to Probate a Civil Union
With the passing of the Illinois Civil Union Act, partners may not take advantage of their new found status under the probate act. This advantage comes to play in a number of scenarios. The first of which is if there is children involved. Under the new law, partners under the Civil Union Act have the same rights as spouses under the law. This means that if two incomes were needed to maintain the family, and one partner meets a premature death, the other spouse will have the proper assets to care for their child. The reason for this is that spouses, and not partners, have the privileged of being designated in the primary prefrence category for receipt of assets. A partner would be ensured a primary preference category for up to 9 months and an award of no less than $20,000.00. Partners will also have preference category for being designated as the administrator of the estate. This is wildly different than the previous designation for same sex partners.

The key for couples who have taken advantage of the Civil Union Act is to consult an attorney about the status of their estate planning because there is only a limited number of states that recognize this law. A knowledgeable attorney should be consulted before any move is contemplated. If you would like to find out more about probate or estate planning under the civil union law, call;

Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
708-529-7794
www.jwcolelaw.com

Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Did your old attorney really do a good job?
Problem: Your old attorney gave you your estate planning documents and sent you on your way. You have no plan for when you die, just some documents that state who your property goes to upon your death.

Needs: What you needed was a comprehensive plan that includes both a property distribution plan and the methods that that plan can be implemented.

Solution: You need to find an attorney that focuses on more than just a document "pump and dump".

It has been an unfortunate problem that attorneys, particularly older attorneys, have asked some basic questions of clients and then pumped out a will or trust for the client. They have the client come into the office and sing the documents and send them on their way. Often, the client is confused about what this document does and how anyone will be able to use it after their death. Additionally, the attorney doesnt care to help these individuals because she hopes that she will do the probate in the event of your death. What I always tell the Executors of an estate is, "The more disorganized the estate is, the more money I make." This may be why old attorneys simply dump the documents on the client and provide no instruction later. This pump and dump method was par for the course in the old days. Now, clients should expect more. The proper instruction can make the passing of a loved one a manageable process from property standpoint.

You may be asking, what things should my attorney have told me?

 This question is very specific to your situation. People have so many different types of assets and family situations, it would be wrong to try and give a cookie cutter answer. There are some pieces of information that he should have discussed with you which are almost universal to everyone. This type of information makes administrating your estate much easier. I always advocate creating a critical information sheet with your attorney that will be given to the executor that will make their life much easier. This critical information sheet will contain things that would take a good deal of manpower to find and, in some cases, may never be found. A sampling of things that should be included on this sheet would include: passwords to emails, passwords to Facebook, passwords to a blog, passwords to finacial institution accounts, location of keys to lock boxes, listing of all certificate of deposits, listing of all savings/checking accounts, names of brokerage firms, names and numbers of insurance companies, instructions for care of pets, lists of credit cards, etc.

Most Estate Planning lawyers dont even include these things with their documents. This type of estate planning is simply unacceptable. A good estate planning attorney should ensure that they are counselors and not simply a document manufacturer. There is no doubt that a good will or trust makes all the difference in the word in regards to the property going to the proper party and with the least governmental hassle. Why not choose an attorney who makes the hassle on loved ones as small as it possibly can be. After all, is that who you had the trust drafted for anyways.

For more information on getting your Will or Trust, call,

Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
708-529-7794
Jonathan@JWColeLaw.com

Chicago Estate Planning Attorney | Powers of Attorney
Many clients have been very confused about the meaning and usefulness of the documents called Powers of Attorney. This post will explain what these documents are and how you should use them. To begin there are two types of estate planning documents. One type is documents that have an effect while you are alive and the other type has an effect when you are dead. Powers of attorney have an effect while you are alive. For the most part, their power terminates at your death.

Now that we know when they are effective, what do they do?

There are two types of Powers of Attorney; 1) Power of Attorney for Property, 2) Power of Attorney for Health Care. In general, you as the "principal" designates a friend or family member to act as your "agent". That agent will then be able to make decisions and take actions on your behalf when you are unable to. These documents help individuals who can not take the appropriate actions that will promote their best interests. I know that the preceding sentence seems either confusing, or not applicable to you. I will show you that this type of situation will probably happen at some point during the course of your life.

You may need a power of attorney if ...

  • you are in an accident and can not make medical decisions on your own behalf. 
  • you are in an accident and you cant update the CD at the bank that came due.
  • you are on vacation and you forgot that you had a closing on one of your properties.
  • you are on vacation and your cell phone contract came due and you want to keep your plan.
  • you have to be in two places at once to sign documents.
  • you have mobility issues that makes getting to a location difficult.
As you can see, this is just a small sampling of times when a Power of Attorney can be either crucial or extremely convenient. If you would like to find out more about Powers of Attorney, you can contact my law office in Oak Lawn, Illinois at:

5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708) 529-7794










Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Elder Law - Planning for Sickness
I know that I have done a Medicaid post previously, but I have received so many calls lately that I thought it would be helpful to add another post with some additional information. If there is more you would like to know about Elder Law, I would encourage you to call and ask your question specifically, or post a comment to the blog if it is of a more general nature. I will start out the advice in this post with the most essential advice I can provide.

PLAN EARLY, DONT SUFFER, IF YOU WAIT, IT WILL COST YOU

I wish that there was a mountain top I could shout this from. I know that your future poor health is not something that you want to think about, but without proper planning you will pay much more and perhaps receive inferior care. This brings you to the question, what is proper planning? In my humble opinion, proper planning is completing the following tasks long before you are sick.

1. Have a Power of Attorney for Property and a Power of Attorney for Healthcare drafted. These documents will be explained in a future post in more detail, but they are the best first step to take when you are healthy in the event of an emergency.

2. Have a Will drafted that acts as a Pour-Over-Will. A Pour-Over-Will is best described as a back up plan. A Pour-Over-Will does just as the name sounds, it transfers all property into another disposition vehicle. In most cases this is a Trust, which you would have set up in the past. 

3. Have a Trust drafted to hold your assets. There are generally two types of trusts. An Irrevocable Trust is like its own legal entity. This type of trust is to remove assets from your name so that you qualify for governmental benefits. A Revocable Trust is an instrument that will transfer property outside of probate after death. Probate avoidance is critical to speed disposition of property after death, especially is both spouses are ill. 

4. Complete a Medicaid application if you are eligible. I would recommend that you speak to an elder law attorney to help you determine if you are eligible, and if you are not, what steps you can take to become eligible. To find out more on Medicaid, check out my post here on Medicaid Eligibility

5. Speak to an Insurance Agent who is knowledgeable in Long Term Care Insurance. I will link to my two previous posts on long term care insurance here. Long Term Care Insurance part 1 and Long Term Care Insurance part 2. I can not stress enough how important it is that you speak to an agent who is very knowledgeable in this unique type of insurance. I would be happy to recommend one if you do not know an agent who handles this type of insurance. The reason you need a specialist in this type of field is because most agents sell very few of these policies and will just read to you the brochure. They have no idea if you are the type of person who can benefit from this policy. They are simply selling what they were told to sell. They have no idea when the product is useful and appropriate. 

6. Draft a Critical Document/ Information List. This is a document that includes all the critical information that loved ones will need in the event of your illness. An attorney with your best interest at heart will provide a comprehensive list of information that you should include in your Critical Document List. Before you decide on an attorney, find out how comprehensive they intend to be. There is more to Illness Planning than just legal documents. 

These six planning tools are important to have completed long in advance of getting sick. My recommendation is to have these tools in place before you turn fifty years old. The likelihood of needing some or all of these tools after fifty is much greater than before fifty. In the case of medicaid planning, you need to have your documents drafted, in some cases, five years before you need care. This is why I stress that proper planning be done well in advance of problems. Better to have things prepared in advance than have their benefit be diminished by waiting until the last minute. 

If you would like to speak to me about these issues, contact me at:

5013 W. 95h St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708) 529-7794
www.jwcolelaw.com











Oak Lawn Estate Planning | How do I know if I need an Attorney for my Will?
I will begin this post with the disclaimer that you probably already know, I am an estate planning lawyer. What does this mean for you, perhaps my opinion iss a little biased, but I also have more experience than you in this area. I warn you to take my opinion as one of many you will look up and you will surely find the answer you are looking for. 

So the question is, when do I need an attorney to do my Will?

 My answer is, almost always. You question should be why. I will give you three options that are non-attorney related and the reasons these option will leave you lacking.

Option One: Get a sample Will online and just change the name to my name.

        Why This Is A Dumb Idea: You Google a Will online and think it may fit your situation. You say, "I dont have a big estate anyway, what could go wrong?" The short answer is everything. Wills have state specific requirements. In order fr Wills to be valid, you must comply exactly with the rules of your state. Do you know how many wittnesses you need in your state. Do you know the requirements for the execution ceremony for your Will? Do you understand how your property will be divided after you pass? You will have to know the difference between per stirpes and per capita with representation. You probably have not even heard of the concept of per stirpes before. I am sure you will Google it now though. An online Will may seem to fit your situation, but in most cases, they do not. There is a good chance that you do not understand what parts of that Will do not apply to you and what parts you may need that are missing. An online Will can only lead to frustration for you and your family. 

Option Two: I will simply hand write my own wishes and leave them where they can be found.

     Why This Is A Dumb Idea: Some states do not recognize a holographic Will. I am sure you will be Googleing holographic Will now. If you do not know if your state recognizes it, you are asking for a world of trouble. Additionally, Holographic Wills are easily challenged in court. This option leaves either two results. One, your will was never valid in the first place and your property will be distributed through your states intestate statute. Option Two, is that your Will is challenged and that means your sanity is challenged  This is a horrible process and usually breaks up families that were tight before the process. 

Option Three: Purchase a Will from a legal zoom type website.

     Why This Is A Dumb Idea: You are hiring an "attorney" to prepare you a Will. Your Will will be a template, based upon a few questions you answer in a pull down menu. What are the chances that an attorney will be able to find out the proper information in a few pull down menu? Not very likely. This is not a customer satisfaction survey from an online retailer. No attorney can create a plan from you with only a few questions. This is a sham of an operation. People can only provide you a proper plan if they can ask you a question and get a response that is not forced to fit one of three options. You are not the same as your neighbor and your plan can not be the same as your neighbors. This is you Will, not an I pod. The ability to have a dialog is vital to getting a plan that is proper for your situation. Additionally, the cost of a live attorney is not substantially more than an online service. I call those who use this service penny wise, pound foolish. 

So this leaves you with the final question, who doesnt need an attorney to draft their Will? Only those individuals who do not care where their property goes when they die. If your opinion is that, I am dead and I dont care what happens to my stuff, intestate is the way for you. If you would like to have some control where your property goes, you should get an attorney to prepare a Will for you.

5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708) 529-7794


Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Medicaid Planning
You may anticipate that you or a loved one will have to go into a nursing home in the future. You are worried about how you are going to pay for nursing home care. You know it costs between $4,000 and $7,000 a month.  This cost is well beyond the means that most families have saved to cover their medical needs. At $84,000 a year, most families can not keep up with the rising long term care costs. I have already spoken on the benefits of Long Term Care Insurance in an earlier post with a follow up on Long Term Care Insurance in this post. The problem may arise if you are too late to apply for long term care insurance. Long term care insurance is mostly for those who are health now. If you did not get insurance, medicaid planning is the method for you.

Medicaid planning is a very technical type of planning. I will start off the section on Medicaid planning with this warning, you should consult a professional before doing any type of asset transfer. I know you may be skeptical because I am a professional who does Medicaid Planning, but rest assured there is a good reason to go to a professional on this area. If you improperly transfer assets, you could be penalized for up to three times the amount of the asset transfer. This penalty is converted into a period of time and you will be excluded from Medicaid benefits for that many months. The purpose of this post is not to talk about the penalty for an improper asset transfer, but know that the penalty is much greater than it probably should be.

So how does Medicaid planning work? There are assets that are exempt and non-exempt. In order to qualify, you must have a total of non-exempt assets that are below the threshold allowable by Medicaid. This threshold is state specific because each state administrates the federal Medicaid program In Illinois, the Spousal Impoverishment Act allows a community spouse to keep $109,560 in non-exempt assets. It also allows a community spouse to earn a monthly income of $2,739 without having to contribute any of their income to the cared for spouses bills. There are some ways to ensure that your community assets meet this level, but the order of asset transfer must be precise and exact. An "auditor" for Medicaid will look back on any transaction that is made that transfer assets for the five years preceding the application to Medicaid or entry into a nursing home. The key for qualification to medicaid if to transfer assets from non-exempt property to exempt property in a method and manner that will not disqualify you from Medicaid benefits. The problem is if you transfer property in an improper manner, even if the ultimate goal is a proper asset transfer, you will suffer a severe penalty from Medicaid.

The other aspect of Medicaid planning is timely action. If you plan for Medicaid five or more years before you will need it, you will have many more options for transferring your money. You will have a myriad of trusts available to you .These trusts can transfer your assets to anyone you choose. You will not be limited to your spouse or disabled adult children. This is a big advantage for many reasons. You may not have any disabled children and you want to take advantage of tax breaks when giving money to your family. Additionally, you are not limited and under scrutiny with what you do with the money you earned.

If you would like to speak to a professional about Medicaid planning, call me at:

Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708) 529-7794



Business Formation Blog



Illinois Business Formation | Recommended Reading for Small Businesses
Recommended Reading for Small Businesses

The link above is from the IRS. This link provides further links to amazing publications that business can use to better understand how their tax liabilities are to be computed and how to categorize different transactions within your business. There are a number of publications in this link. Click through and find how you can better plan your business with taxes in mind. Who knows, perhaps you were missing a tax you could have written off. Who wouldnt like to save a few bucks. As always, cal (708) 529-7794 to speak to an attorney about your business and how you can reduce your tax liability.

New Business Formation | How do I start a new business?
Congratulations, you have decided to open a business. Now you ask yourself, "How do I do this?" There are a number of things you need to think about while opening your business. First, you have to ask youself if what you are offering, others would be willing to pay you to have. I am an attorney, so my offering is advice after years of education, training, and life experience. People are willing to pay for my advice because they know I have been through the required training, as determined by the bar association. Lets pretend that you sell dog scarves. Why would an individual give you money for you dog scarf? Do you have the skills to make a quality scarf for a price that is low enough for people to affored and want to purchace. Plus, you have to be able to make a profit. If you can answer this question with a resounding yes....you are ready to take your business to the next step. I will give you a short list, which will be added to later, that will get your mind thinking about the steps neeed for a sucessful business.

1. Secure Financing - either a loan or your savings
2. Limit Your Liability - Speak to an attorney about business vehicles
3. Purchase Accounting Software - Most people choose quickbooks, you should talk to your accountant first.
4. Purchase Business Insurance
5. Set Up Office Protocol
6. Create Promotional Materials
7. Check with City about Business License
8. ENsure you are in compliance with zoning law
9. Get a Federal EIN number
10. Start Selling Your Product.

During all of these stages, the advice of a lawyer will ensure you are doing everything legally and protecting yourself from risk. The Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole is happy to provide legal advice to you though the entire new business formation. Unlike some attorneys, Jonathan is willing to assist with more than just the filing with the Secretary of State. The Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole knows there is more to the formation of a business than the filing of a few papers. Look for upcoming posts on each of these steps and more steps that are omitted. Good luck with your new business.

Welcome to Illinois Business Formation
Welcome to the Illinois Business Formation blog. This blog will be rich with information about forming a business in Illinois. It will include the methods of forming a business in Illinois, the types of business that can be formed, the advantages and disadvantages of each type, and tips for starting each type. If you would like to speak to a professional about starting your business, please contace me at jwcolelaw.com. Good luck with your journey and happy reading. I hope this blog helps you on your way.



Illinois Immigration Blog

Oak Lawn Immigration Attorney
This blog is about Immigration Law. It is written by Jonathan W. Cole, an immigration attorney in Oak Lawn, IL. It covers everything from tourist visas to the naturalization process. If you want to know about your immigration status, this is the place to find out.


Oak Lawn Immigration Attorney | Lawful Permanent Residence or LPR Application

The most often asked question that an attorney receives regarding immigration is about the application for Lawful Permanent Residence. Many individuals prefer to this as a green card application. The application for Lawful Permanent Residence status or LPR status can be granted in one of a number of ways. You can apply for lawful permanent resident status based upon a family relationship, employment, asylum, for legalization for set group of people by an act of Congress. Most individuals use the family relationship status as the basis for their application as an LPR. Many individuals have their LPR requests denied because of improper applications or a lack of proper evidence supporting their application. Immigration attorneys will tell you they receive a good number of phone calls from individuals who are now having problems with USCIS because of improper applications or lack of proper evidence. Improper petition can create harsh consequences for the applicant and he may suffer a penalty period as a result of the improper application. Application for LPR status starts with the petition. The most common petition is a family petition. Under a family petition youll need a family member to sponsor your application. In fact, the family member is treated as the actual application. For family-based immigrants there are five categories of applications. The best category to fall under is called an "immediate relative". As an immediate relative you are given the preferential option of adjusting your status. The main benefit of adjusting your status is that you can be physically present in the United States and still receive an approval on your LPR application which will allow your status to be adjusted to a lawful permanent resident.

After the "immediate relative" category comes the traditional preference categories for family based immigrants. The first preference category includes unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens. The second preference category include spouses and children of LPRs, and unmarried sons and daughters of LPRs. The third preference category includes married sons and daughters of US citizens. Finally, the fourth preference category includes brothers and sisters of US citizens. These four preference categories are used to determine when a visa will become "immediately available" for the individual applying. The preference category uses a concept called "priority date" in which the individuals application will be set as the applicants priority date and that individual would have to wait until his priority date becomes currents in order for his application to be ready to proceed. For information on what priority dates our current for which category the Department of State posts on their website the current priority date statuses.

If you believe you have a family member would like to apply for LPR status and need assistance contact the Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole at 708-529-7794 and schedule a free consultation to speak with an immigration attorney to assist you with your application. LPR applications can be difficult and confusing to do not risk your chances of receiving the benefits of lawful permanent resident status by fumbling through the application alone.

Oak Lawn Immigration Attorney | Deferred Action Education Requirement

The program DACA or (Deferred Action or Childhood Arrivals) has found itself up against a major barrier. This barrier is in regards to the educational requirements which is a key fertile in immigrants obtaining a "legitimate status" under DACA. It is estimated that 350,000 youths are not eligible for DACA because the barriers to the educational requirements are simply too high. Many applicants are attempting to get their GED but are unable to or two major reasons. The first reason is that the GED program is cost prohibitive. Many applicants have an out-of-pocket cost of $4000 for one year in the GED program. This costs is way beyond the means of many individuals were brought to this country at a young age and now are in a low income bracket as a result of not being eligible for work authorization and forced to work in a cash basis system. The second major roadblock for individuals in regards to the education requirement, is a lack of availability of GED programs that have available slots for individuals in this predicament. Many GED programs are either blocked or not reserved or maintain slots for individuals who are undocumented. As a result, many individuals who qualify for DACA cannot gain enrollment in GED courses.

 An additional complication is the lack of many applicants ability to speak English in a proficient manner. Some states have allowed GED programs and the GED tests to be completed in Spanish, but not all states. This presents a major problem DACA applicants would like to get their GED and move on through a DACA application. Of the 1.7 million undocumented immigrants were eligible for deferred action between 320,002 to 350,000 may not meet the education requirement. One major problem of the educational acquirement that DACA insists upon is that it creates a substantial burden on the poorest of the poor. Many individuals who are unable to afford the GED requirements cannot qualify for DACA because they cannot afford the GED program, college, or other education. There is a disproportionate number of individuals who would qualify for DACA otherwise, but cannot afford to complete their GED and therefore are ineligible for DACA. Deferred Action is therefore "a program for rich undocumented aliens" and not a program that would benefit the undocumented poor.

If you believe you may qualify for Deferred Action and would like to speak with an attorney who is knowledgeable on the subject, please do not hesitate to contact

The Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak lawn, IL 60453
708-529-7794
www.JWColeLaw.com

Oak Lawn Immigration Attorney - Is "Illegal Immigrants" a Taboo Word?

The term "illegal immigrant" is the controversial term for many years. This term is brought up feelings that have offended some and rallied others. Like most things there are two sides to the coin. On the one side, the term "illegal immigrants" has been intended to be derogatory and degrading. Individuals who use the term "illegal immigrants" to dehumanize individuals will come into the country through an unauthorized checkpoint or individuals whove overstayed their visa requirements. The dehumanization of "illegal immigrants" has come about for two reasons. The first reason is to garner support for political purposes. Those hoping to alter the immigration policy of the United States, use the term "illegal immigrants" for their own political benefit so that it appears the damage being done this individuals who do not matter. The attempt to dehumanize "illegal immigrants" is an attempt to appear that there are no individual suffering from deportation or, that those who suffer from deportation to not have a say in the matter because of their actions in the first place. As a result, those being deported have gotten what they deserve.

The second usage of the term "illegal immigrants" is an attempt to properly classify this group of people so they can be categorized and placed into a class. One main problem with categorizing this class of individual is that any term could eventually become derogatory and the most accurate classification difficult to ascertain. The term illegal immigrants first refers to, someone who enter the country for an unauthorized checkpoint or second is overstayed their visa. The term immigrant, the first to someone who intends to stay within the country or make the United States their home. The basic thought for an immigrant is that they have the intention to reside within the country, which differentiates them from a tourist who only intends to remain within the country for a short period of time. Many other terms such as, "undocumented aliens" have been tossed around. The term "undocumented aliens" I said to be less derogatory, but that is most likely because it is not common phrase of the moment. Categorization of people were in illegal status or an undocumented status of the moment is important for a number of reasons. The main reason this is important so that that class of individuals have legislation that will move their position forward towards a possible naturalization or lawful permanent resident status. Additionally, the classification of individuals into a class will allow statisticians and economists to more accurately reflect their impact throughout the country. By identifying the impact of undocumented or illegal individuals brought the country, the United States and its citizens better determine the impact they will have on the economy, the social welfare state, and the society in general. It is important that we can classify individuals so that we can accurately determine their numbers and provide for them in whatever manner we deem most unofficial for America and the individuals within the class.

Whatever term eventually wins out will have to create a balance between political correctness, accuracy, and efficiency. With any classification of the group of people, there is always a risk that the classification itself become derogatory. This is particularly true when classifying individuals based on race, creed, national origin. It seems that whenever a classification of individuals appears some faction of society always tries to attach a negative connotation to it. With the term "illegal immigrants" the group of individuals who make up this class are a unique set of characters. The reason for this is that the "illegal immigrants" consist of a multitude of races, creeds, and national origins. By having such a diverse group of individuals make up this class, the derogatory feature that a subgroup of society intends to attach to the term "illegal immigrants" is more difficult to attribute to any individual who falls within that class than would be to someone who falls under a class based upon, for example, say race. The primary reason for this is that individuals who fall within this class are not easily identifiable based upon skin color or facial features. It is difficult to determine who may fall into this class without knowing the background of that individual or the supporting identification may have determine whether they fall into that class or not. In fact, the only way to determine if someone falls within that class is to ask for papers or documentation. The mere fact that someone can enter into the class or, by contrast, the class by the application to a government entity makes the class unique. The unfortunate part is that many people are grouped into this class would not otherwise be based upon a preconceived notion that their race, creed, or national origin would put them into this class. This unfortunately improperly classifies many individuals as "illegal immigrants" who are either not illegal immigrants, but legal immigrants, or individuals were not even immigrants at all. People might be classified this way based upon the color of their skin, even if they were US-born national. However this term ends up being portrayed, you can be sure of one thing. Political groups will make this a hot button issue for the upcoming election and probably for many years to come. I welcome your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below, and look forward to seeing how this term is categorizing the future.

If you know someone was looking for help with applying to improve their immigration status, the Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole would be happy to assist anyone with their applications to USCIS. For more information, contact the Law Office of Jonathan W Cole at the information below;

The Law Office of Jonathan W Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak lawn IL 60453
www.JWColeLaw.com
708-529-7794

Oak Lawn Immigration | Deferred Action Application
Deferred action has been available for a couple of weeks now and there are some things that have been learned through the process that will make second wave applicants life easier than first wave applicants. Since deferred action became available, the Law Office has processed applications for individuals all over the south side of Chicago. Individuals who qualify have been able to take advantage of the benefits that deferred action has been able to afford. The primary benefit of deferred action is the ability to live free of fear of deportation for the two year period that your application is granted. Additionally, you will be eligible for for work authorization. Individuals from Palos Heights, Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Alsip, Blue Island, and Bridgeview have all been able to take advantage of  this new benefit to immigrants. As a result of the experienced gained through the first wave of deferred action applications, immigration attorneys are providing even better services to the second wave of deferred action applicants.

If you are in the the south suburbs of Chicago or on the south side of Chicago. Call the Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole.

Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
708-529-7794
www.jwcolelaw.com

Oak Lawn Immigration Attorney | Dream Act

THE LAW OFFICE OF JONATHAN W. COLE WELCOMES DEFERRED ACTION ANNOUNCEMENT, WARN OF POTENTIAL FRAUD BY SO-CALLED "NOTARIOS"

OAK LAWN, ILLINOIS - THE LAW OFFICE OF JONATHAN W. COLE welcomed the Administrations recent announcement that younger immigrants may be eligible for "Deferred Action" and work authorization. The policy will grant qualified immigrants the opportunity to live free from fear of deportation and allow them to work legally. This exciting new development brings hope to immigrants and their families. It is not, however, a permanent fix and does not grant permanent legal status to anyone.
To qualify, an individual must:
  • have arrived in the U.S. when they were under the age of sixteen;
  • have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012 and have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
  • currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • not have been convicted of a felony offense, a "significant misdemeanor offense," three or more non-significant misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
  • have been under thirty-one years old on June 15, 2012
The deferred action offer will be available to those in proceedings, those with final removal orders, as well as to those who apply affirmatively.

The Administration is not yet accepting applications for this action. Within sixty days - by the middle of August - the Administration expects to issue guidance and information about how eligible individuals can request deferred action and work authorization.

Unfortunately, this policy may open the door for fraud and deception by so-called "Notarios." In the United States, notarios have no legal background and cannot legally practice law or represent you. Anyone claiming they can submit an application or charging a fee for applying for deferred action should NOT be trusted until the process has been announced by the federal government. An immigrants case can be delayed by notarios acting in bad faith, resulting in penalties and even deportation.

For more information, contact your the Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole at jwcolelaw.com or 708-529-7794.

Oak Lawn Immigration Attorney | Cook County may not report Immigrants to the Feds!
The Chicago Tribune has reported that the Cook County Board of Commissioners have recently passed an ordinance that would allow illegal immigrants in jail on misdemeanor charges to be released despite federal requests to have them detained for deportation. A recent federal ruling in determined Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers are voluntary requests, not mandatory. It applies to anyone arrested on misdemeanor charges who normally would be released from custody.

This is not a free pass for immigrants to commit misdemeanors, but merely one step for immigrants who would like to remain with their families. It is important for any immigrant, who has been arrested, to contact both a Criminal Law Attorney and an Immigration Law Attorney. Both attorneys are needed because there will be potential issues in both fields from an incident of illegal activity. If you would like immigration advice from an attorney, contact:

The Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708) 529-7794


Oak Lawn Immigration Attorney | Petitioning For A Family Member
This is going to be a quick post, but it is based on the frustration that I am finding with the job other attorneys have done with them. I have had a number of clients come into my office, asking about their petition for alien relative. It is mostly brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who come to me and ask about the status of their I-130. I let them know that the priority date is what is crucial for these petitions. When they look through their paperwork for the priority date, I notice that they did not file a I-485 Application for Permanent Resident Status. I ask them how they applied, and the response was always: WITH AN ATTORNEY! I could not believe it. It is crucial that you speak to an attorney who handles immigration law. In most cases, you should file both your alien relative petition and your permanent resident card at the same time. This will expedite your permanent resident card approval and the time needed to become a full U.S. citizen. Speak to a qualified attorney by calling the Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole at (708) 529-7794.

Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708) 529-7794

Oak Lawn Immigration Attorney | Type B Tourist Visa

Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708)529-7794

Chicago Immigration Attorney | You Dont Have to Leave Because your Spouse Died!
The Problem: You Marry a U.S. Citizen and are living in the U.S. but your spouse dies in an accident. Your Spouse has not filed a qualifying family member I-130 petition.

The Old Result: TOO BAD. You do not Qualify for a self petition or adjustment of status.

New Laws Result: You Can Self Petition!


This is extremely exciting news for many widows and widowers throughout the  U.S. The reason is that many spouses who would otherwise receive their Permanent Resident Status if their spouse was still alive were being deported. Under the new law, if you Timely file your application for a "green card", you can ride on the application, or potential application, of your deceased spouse.

This will allow many families to continue their dream to live in America, even in the event of an untimely death of their U.S. family "anchor". Section 204(l) of the Immigration and Nationality Act now allows Immediate Family Members and Derivative Family Members the importunity to petition for permanent resident status.

The Caveat: You must be a resident in the U.S.

The residency requirement means that you must have established yourself inside of the U.S. before your spouse passes. In order to establish residency, things such as a home purchase, school registration or a job help show that you intended to remain inside the U.S.

What should you take from this law?

You can stay inside the U.S., even if your citizen spouse passes away. BUT You must act quickly to ensure that your time to petition does not expire. You should call an immigration attorney who can help you with your petition for lawful permanent residence status. If you are in the Chicago-land area call:


Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole
5013 W. 95th St. 
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708) 529-7794

Information provided in this website is for informational and advertisement purposes. The information contained here should not be construed as legal advice. Each case is different, and the proper steps to proceed with a case is specific to the facts of every situation.