Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson Concerning the District Court’s Ruling Concerning DAPA and DACA
I strongly disagree with Judge Hanen’s decision to temporarily enjoin implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction; in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it.
Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA.
The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority. Our actions will also benefit the economy and promote law enforcement. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do.
It is important to emphasize what the District Court’s order does not affect.
The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012.
Nor does the Court’s order affect this Department’s ability to set and implement enforcement priorities. The priorities established in my November 20, 2014 memorandum entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants” remain in full force and effect. Pursuant to those enforcement priorities, we continue to prioritize public safety, national security, and border security. I am pleased that an increasing percentage of removals each year are of those convicted of crimes. I am also pleased that, due in large part to our investments in and prioritization of border security, apprehensions at the southern border – a large indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally — are now at the lowest levels in years.

For more info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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Last year I told you about two websites: One was At this website once a year you can get free credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus. That way you can check all of them at the same time or spread them out over the course of a year. is the second website. All their services are free. No hidden charges. You can get your credit score updated as many times as you want free of charge. They give advice on what to do and what not to do to improve your score. But this year they have added two credit bureaus. So you can also get free credit reports at this website. And there is no limit on how many times you can request them.

Hope this helps. If you need more info, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Because of President Obama’s new executive action, you may be considered for deferred action (DAPA) if you:

• Have lived in the United States continuously since Jan. 1, 2010, up to the present time;
• Were physically present in the United States on Nov. 20, 2014, and at the time of making your request for consideration of DAPA with USCIS;
• Had no lawful status on Nov. 20, 2014;
• Had, on Nov. 20, 2014, a son or daughter, of any age or marital status, who is a U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR); and
• Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors; do not otherwise pose a threat to national security; and are not an enforcement priority for removal.

For a free consultation, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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California Probate

California Probate

Probate is easy to avoid if you pay attention to what you own and how you own it.  But if you do not take the time to avoid probate it can be costly.
WHAT IS PROBATE? Probate is a legal procedure that is used to close a person’s legal and financial affairs after death. In California probate proceedings are conducted in the Superior Court for the county in which the decedent lived, and can take at least eight months or more.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING A PROBATE? The person who is nominated in the will as executor files a petition with the Superior Court asking that he or she be appointed as executor. If there is no will, the Probate Code provides a list of persons who have priority to petition to become administrator. The will also is filed with the petition, and notices are sent to the heirs and/or relatives to let them know when the hearing will be held. If there are objections to the petition, or if the validity of the will is contested, the hearing will be used to resolve any problems that have arisen. In some cases this may mean that the validity of the will is not upheld, or that some other person than the original petitioner is chosen to administer the estate. In most cases, however, there is no objection and the petition is granted. The executor then makes an inventory of the estate’s assets, locates creditors, pays bills, files tax returns, and manages the estate assets. When all of the duties of the executor are completed, another petition is filed with the court asking that the estate be distributed to the heirs. If this petition is granted, the estate administration is completed by distributing the assets to the heirs and filing final tax returns.

HOW MUCH DOES PROBATE COST? California Probate Code Section 10810 sets the maximum statutory fees that attorneys can charge for a probate. Higher fees can be ordered by a court for more complicated cases. The fees are four percent of the first $100,000 of the estate, three percent of the next $100,000, two percent of the next $800,000, one percent of the next $9,000,000, and one-half percent of the next $15,000,000. For estates larger than $25,000,000, the court will determine the fee for the amount that is greater than $25,000,000.

The fees listed below are the California statutory fees used to compensate attorneys and executors in probate cases for various sizes of estates. If both the attorney and the executor receive a fee, the amount paid will be double that shown below.  The value of the estate is determined, in general, by the inventory for the estate.  (If an accounting of the estate has been waived, the total value of the estate for attorney’s fees purposes is the inventory, plus gains on sales, minus losses on sales.)  Debts are not included in determining attorney’s fees, and if a house is appraised at $1,000,000, for example, and it has a mortgage of $800,000, it is still considered a $1,000,000 asset for the purpose of calculating attorney’s fees.

Estate Value Statutory Fee
$100,000 $4,000
$200,000 $7,000
$300,000 $9,000
$400,000 $11,000
$500,000 $13,000
$600,000 $15,000
$700,000 $17,000
$800,000 $19,000
$900,000 $21,000
$1 million $23,000

The fee charged by the court to file a probate petition varies by county. There will be an additional fee when the petition for final distribution is filed.  There are other fees for publication of the probate notice, for the probate referee, and for certification of copies of court documents.

APPRAISAL OF THE ESTATE: Estates are appraised by probate referees, who are appointed by the State Controller to determine the fair market value of the asset. The fair market value includes mortgages and other debts, which can result in an appraisal of the property that is higher than the equity that the deceased owned in the property. Probate referees receive a fee based on .1 percent of the assets that have been appraised.

FEES CAN GO HIGHER: In probates that are complicated by lawsuits or tax problems, the attorney and executor can ask the judge to approve fees that are higher than those set by state law.

ADVANTAGES OF PROBATE: The proceedings are controlled by a judge, who can decide disputes between heirs and/or the executor. Creditors are required to submit their claims against the estate within a four-month period, provided they have been notified of the probate. The executor is required, in most cases, to prepare an accounting and report of the executor’s activities.

DISADVANTAGES OF PROBATE: The cost is usually much higher than would be required for the administration of a living trust for an estate valued at the same amount. It usually takes longer to probate an estate than to administer a trust.

AVOIDING PROBATE: Many estates do not need to be probated. If there is a surviving spouse and there is no will, or the will gives the estate to the surviving spouse, a spousal property petition might be used.  For estates valued at less than $150,000, the small estate law may apply.

 For a free consultation, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.



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Wells Fargo and Chase in Trouble Again

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Maryland Attorney General took action against Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, for an illegal marketing kickback scheme they participated in with Genuine Title, a now-defunct title company.
According to the bureau, Genuine Title gave the banks’ loan officers cash in exchange for business referrals.
As a result, Wells Fargo will be required to pay $24 million in civil penalties, JPMorgan will be required to pay $600,000 in civil penalties, along with $11.1 million to consumers whose loans were involved.
“These banks allowed their loan officers to focus on their own illegal financial gain rather than on treating consumers fairly. Our action today to address these practices should serve as a warning for all those in the mortgage market,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
“Homeowners were steered toward this title company, not because they were the best or most affordable, but because they were providing kickbacks to loan officers who referred consumers to them,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “This type of quid pro quo arrangement is illegal, and it’s unfair to other businesses that play by the rules.
Genuine Title was a Maryland-based title company that offered real-estate-closing services from 2005 until it became defunct in April 2014.
As part of the scheme, the title company offered loan officers services and cash kickbacks to increase the amount of loan business that was generated.
In return, the banks’ loan officers increased Genuine Title’s profits by referring homebuyers to the company for closing services.
This scheme violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which prohibits giving a “fee, kickback, or thing of value” in exchange for a referral of business related to a real-estate-settlement service.
Wells Fargo:
The investigation identified more than 100 Wells Fargo loan officers, largely in Maryland and Virginia, who participated in the scheme. The CFPB alleged that these loan officers referred thousands of loans to Genuine Title.
Under the proposed consent order filed today, Wells Fargo would be required to pay $10.8 million in redress and $24 million in civil penalties. The bureau also filed an administrative consent order against Wells Fargo.
The CFPB alleged that at least six Chase loan officers in Maryland, Virginia, and New York were involved. These officers referred business to Genuine Title on almost 200 loans.
Under the proposed consent order filed today, Chase would pay $300,000 to customers and $600,000 in civil penalties. Additionally, the CFPB also filed an administrative consent order against Chase.


If you need additional info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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DACA from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
If you request either initial or renewal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), you must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and required fees. USCIS will reject your request if you fail to submit Form I-765, the required filing fee, Form I-765 Worksheet, and Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. For complete instructions on requesting DACA, go to the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) page.
For DACA renewals, USCIS strongly encourages you to submit your renewal request between 150 days and 120 days before the expiration date located on your current Form I-797 DACA approval notice and Employment Authorization Document. Filing during this window will minimize the possibility that your current period of DACA will expire before you receive a decision on your renewal request.
USCIS’ current goal is to process DACA renewal requests within 120 days. However, you may submit an inquiry about the status of your renewal request after it has been pending more than 105 days. To submit an inquiry, please visit or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD for the hearing impaired: 1-800-767-1833)

If you need more info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler for a free consultation at 213-446-6766.

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California Regulators Want to Suspend Ocwen’s Mortgage License
Published January 13, 2015
Associated Press
California regulators are trying to suspend the mortgage license of Ocwen Financial Corp., saying the company failed to provide information that shows it complies with the state’s laws to protect homeowners.
The state passed a package of laws, known as the Homeowners Bill of Rights, that took effect in 2013 and were designed to increase transparency in the foreclosure process and reduce mortgage fraud.
California Department of Business Oversight spokesman Tom Dresslar said that the department has been seeking information for nearly a year from Ocwen to ensure the nation’s largest subprime mortgage servicer is complying with these laws. But he said that Ocwen has repeatedly failed to adequately respond.
As part of this process, the Department of Business Oversight issued a subpoena and a regulatory order to get the information; Dressler says both were violated. So the department to the matter to an administrative law judge, asking that the company’s license be revoked. A hearing is scheduled for July.
Ocwen did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The company, based in Atlanta, provides residential and commercial mortgage loan servicing.
Ocwen recently reached a settlement with regulators in New York after they identified a number of problems with the company’s practices, including wrongful foreclosures, missing paperwork and more. As part of that agreement, announced last month, the company must reform its practices and provide $150 million to help struggling homeowners. The agreement also requires its founder, William Erbey, to resign as executive chairman of the corporation and chairman of four related companies.

 If you have further questions, please contact Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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How Do Insurers Value an Injury Claim?

How Do Insurers Value an Injury Claim?
Here’s how insurance companies determine the value of your personal injury claim.

Figuring out how much your accident injuries are worth is a critical aspect of any personal injury claim, and it’s the part of a claim that is most difficult to determine; the amount varies depending on your circumstances. Here is an overview of how insurance companies determine what a claim is worth.
What an Insurance Company Must Compensate:
Here are the types of damages for which you may be compensated. Usually, the insurance company of the person at fault — must pay for the following:
• medical care and related expenses
• income lost because of the accident, because of time spent unable to work or undergoing treatment for injuries
• permanent physical disability or disfigurement
• loss of family, social, and educational experiences, including missed school or training, vacation or recreation, or a special event
• emotional damages, such as stress, embarrassment, depression, or strains on family relationships — for example, the inability to take care of children, anxiety over the effects of an accident on an unborn child, or interference with sexual relations, and
• damaged property.
The Insurance Company’s Damages Formula:
When determining compensation, it is usually simple to add up the money spent and money lost, but there is no precise way to put a dollar figure on pain and suffering or on missed experiences and lost opportunities. That’s where an insurance company’s damages formula comes in.
At the beginning of claim negotiations, an insurance adjuster adds up the total medical expenses related to the injury. These expenses are referred to as “medical special damages”. That’s the base figure the adjuster uses to figure out how much to pay the injured person for pain, suffering, and other nonmonetary losses, which are called “general” damages.
When the injuries are relatively minor, the adjuster multiplies the amount of special damages by 1.5 or 2. When the injuries are more painful, serious, or long-lasting, the adjuster multiplies the amount of special damages by up to 5.  The multiplier may be as great as 10 in extremely serious cases. The adjuster then adds on any income lost as a result of the injuries.
That’s all there is to the formula. However, this figure — medical specials multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5, then added to lost income — is not a final compensation amount but only the number from which negotiations begin.
Percentage of Fault:
The extent each person is at fault is an important factor affecting how much the insurance company is going to pay. The damages formula gives you a range of how much your injuries may be worth, but only after you allow for the question of fault do you know the actual amount you will be paid.
Determining fault for an accident is not an exact science, but in most claims both you and the insurance adjuster will at least have a good idea whether the insured person was entirely at fault, or if you were a little at fault, or if you were a lot at fault. Whatever that rough percentage of your comparative fault might be — 10%, 50%, 75% — is the amount by which the damages formula total will be reduced to arrive at a final figure.

If you are in need of more info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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Damages: How Much is a Personal Injury Case Worth?
The answer comes down to “damages” — figuring out what your injuries have cost you monetarily, physically, and mentally (and, in some cases, whether the defendant’s conduct is so egregious that it should be punished).
In a personal injury case, money damages are paid to an injured person by the person who is found to be legally responsible for the accident. A damage award can be agreed upon after a negotiated settlement — among the parties or may be ordered by a judge or jury following a court trial.
Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Most personal injury damages are classified as “compensatory,” meaning that they are intended to compensate the injured person for what was lost due to the accident or injury. A compensatory damages award is meant to make the injured person “whole” again from a monetary standpoint. Some compensatory damages are relatively easy to put a number to — like reimbursement for property damage and medical bills. But it is more difficult to place a monetary value on pain and suffering or the inability to enjoy activities because of physical limitations caused by lingering accident-related injuries.

Here is a list of the different types of compensatory damages that are common in many personal injury cases.
Medical treatment. A damages award almost always includes the cost of medical care associated with the accident — reimbursement for treatment you’ve already received and compensation for the estimated cost of medical care you’ll need in the future because of the accident.
Income. You may be entitled to compensation for the accident’s impact on your salary and wages — not just income you’ve already lost but also the money you would have been able to make in the future, were it not for the accident.
Property loss. If any vehicles, clothing, or other items were damaged as a result of the accident, you will be entitled to reimbursement for repairs or compensation for the fair market value of the property that was lost.
Pain and suffering. You may be entitled to get compensation for pain and serious discomfort you suffered during the accident and in its immediate aftermath — also for any ongoing pain that can be attributed to the accident.
Emotional distress. Usually linked to more serious accidents, emotional distress damages are meant to compensate a person for the psychological impact of an injury — including fear, anxiety, and sleep loss.
Loss of enjoyment. When injuries caused by an accident keep you from enjoying day-to-day pursuits, you may be entitled to receive “loss of enjoyment” damages.
Loss of consortium. In personal injury cases, “loss of consortium” damages typically relate to the impact the injuries have on the person’s relationship with their spouse — the loss of companionship or the inability to maintain a sexual relationship.
Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases
In cases where the defendant’s conduct is deemed outrageously careless, the injured party may be awarded punitive damages on top of any compensatory damages awarded.
Punitive damages are awarded to the injured party, but the real goal of these kinds of damages is to punish the defendant for its conduct and to act as a deterrent.
How Injured Person’s Actions (or Inaction) Can Affect a Damages Award
In some cases, an injured person’s role in causing an accident — or their inaction after being injured — can diminish the amount of damages available in a personal injury case.
Comparative negligence. If you’re at fault (even partially) for the accident that caused your injuries, chances are that any damage award will reflect that. That’s because most states adhere to a “comparative negligence” standard that links damages to degree of fault in a personal injury case.
Contributory negligence. In the small handful of states that follow the concept of “contributory negligence” for personal injury lawsuits, you may not be able to recover any compensation at all if you’re deemed partially to blame for the accident.
After the accident: failure to mitigate damages. The law expects an injured person to take reasonable steps to minimize or “mitigate” the financial impact of the harm caused by the accident. If an injured person fails to get necessary medical treatment after an accident, and thus makes their injuries much worse, a damages award might be significantly reduced.

If you need more info or representation, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust is simply a type of trust that can be changed at any time. In other words, if you have second thoughts about a provision in the trust or change your mind about who should be a beneficiary or trustee of the trust, then you can modify the terms of the trust through what is called a trust amendment.
Since Revocable Living Trusts are so flexible, why aren’t all trusts revocable? Because the down side to a revocable trust is that assets funded into the trust will still be considered your own personal assets for creditor and estate tax purposes. This means that a revocable trust offers no creditor protection if you are sued, all of the trust assets will be considered yours for Medicaid planning purposes, and all assets held in the name of the trust at the time of your death will be subject to both state estate taxes and federal estate taxes and state inheritance taxes.
So why should you use a Revocable Living Trust as part of your estate plan? For three important reasons:
1. To plan for mental disability – Assets held in the name of a Revocable Living Trust at the time a person becomes mentally incapacitated can be managed by a named trustee instead of by a court-supervised guardian or conservator.
2. To avoid probate – Assets held in the name of a Revocable Living Trust at the time of a person’s death will pass directly to the beneficiaries named in the trust agreement and outside of the probate process. This saves a great deal of money.
3. To protect the privacy of your property and beneficiaries after you die – By avoiding probate with a Revocable Living Trust, your trust agreement can remain a private document and avoid becoming a public record. This will keep the details about your assets and beneficiaries private. On the other hand, a Last Will and Testament that has been admitted to probate becomes a public court record that anyone can see and read.
If you need more information, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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