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Author: rosswayswan

Estate Planning During a Pandemic
Tue, May 5, 2020| | Articles

Estate Planning During a Pandemic

By working together, our community, our nation, and our world will make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the devastation caused by the Coronavirus has forced us to face many difficult realities.  We can choose to be proactive instead of spending our precious time worrying about the unknown. The following are ideas for practical legal efforts that may provide peace of mind during these challenging times, along with some basic information about Estate Planning in Florida:   Health Care Providers and First Responders: The manner in which this crisis has unfolded has resulted in extreme stress on our health care systems and emergency personnel.  Due to their level of exposure, many health care providers and first responders are highly susceptible to contracting COVID-19.  It is vitally important that all people have emergency surrogacy documents (“advance directives”) in place, but it is even more important for those on the front lines.  In Florida, emergency surrogacy documents typically include the following: (General) Durable Powers of Attorney for financial and personal decision-making during your incapacity (your designated decision-maker is called an “Agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact”).  This document may include a pre-need designation for a legal guardian of your property (or this may be done via separate document); Designations of Health Care Surrogates for health care-related decision-making during your incapacity (your designated decision-maker is called a “Health Care Surrogate”).  This document may include a pre-need designation for a legal guardian of your person (or this may be done via separate document); and Living Will declarations […]

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COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Certain Social Security Beneficiaries
Tue, May 5, 2020| | Articles

COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Certain Social Security Beneficiaries

You may be aware that distribution of COVID-19 “stimulus checks” has begun for individuals who filed income tax returns in 2018 and 2019.  Many Social Security recipients file income tax returns and will be included in the first wave of recipients without additional action on their part.  For other Social Security beneficiaries, the following information may be helpful/important: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients With Dependent Children: typically, SSI recipients do not file income tax returns; however, they are still entitled to stimulus payments.  The U.S. Treasury will use SSA-1099 information to identify these individuals.  SSI recipients with dependent children will need to provide information about their eligible children in order to receive an additional $500 per dependent child.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has not provided a deadline for reporting this information as of the date of this posting. Social Security Retirement/Survivor’s Benefits Recipients, Social Security Disability Recipients, and Railroad Retirement Benefits Recipients With Dependent Children: if you receive one of these benefits and did not file an income tax return in 2018/2019, the deadline to add $500 per eligible dependent child to your stimulus check was April 22, 2020.  That said, you may still be eligible to receive the payment if you file a 2020 income tax return and include the necessary information about your dependent child(ren). Income and Resource Limitations for SSI and Medicaid Recipients: the stimulus checks WILL NOT be counted as income for SSI purposes, and will not be counted as a resource to the recipient […]

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Navigating the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Tue, Apr 14, 2020| | Blog

Navigating the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which contains the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, became effective April 1, 2020. The FFCRA requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, a covered employer must provide employees: Two weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or Two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.  Additionally, under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, a covered employer must provide employees that it has employed for at least 30 days: Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded […]

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COVID-19 Relief for Small Businesses under the CARES Act
Tue, Apr 14, 2020| | Blog

COVID-19 Relief for Small Businesses under the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted into law on March 27, 2020.  This is Phase 3 of the federal government’s stimulus package and provides small businesses, sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed persons access to substantive economic relief.  The intent of the legislation is to help employers ride out the next few months of the COVID-19 pandemic and hopefully enable them to retain their workforce.   The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will likely be the primary form of relief used by small businesses under the CARES Act and the following is intended to provide a general overview of the program by breaking down its various terms and scope of application.   The PPP provides “eligible small businesses” access to “forgivable” “loans,” capped at $10 million, for up to 2.5 times the business’ “average monthly payroll” costs incurred in the one-year period prior to the loan application, for “specified uses”.  Each of these terms is addressed below in a question and answer format.  The purpose of the PPP is to assist employers in retaining their employees during the course of the pandemic.   Loan Eligibility:  Who is an “Eligible Small Business”?    Employers in operation on February 15, 2020 are eligible for a PPP loan to the extent the employer either (i) has less than 500 employees, or (ii) meets the size standards set by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the industry in which the business operates.    Loan Terms:  What is the total eligible […]

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Force Majeure In Residential Contracts & COVID-19
Thu, Apr 2, 2020| | Articles

Force Majeure In Residential Contracts & COVID-19

By now you have probably had a client wanting to invoke the force majeure clause of their contract. The purpose of this clause is to allow for parties to delay performance or actually be excused from performance in the event of unforeseen or uncontrollable events.   Like many contracts, standard in the FAR/BAR contract is a “Force Majeure” clause. The clause provides that neither party shall be required to perform any obligation under the Contract or be liable for damages if performance or non-performance is disrupted, delayed, caused or prevented by Force Majeure. The contract defines “Force Majeure” to mean “hurricanes, floods, extreme weather, earthquakes, fire, or other acts of God, unusual transportation delays, or wars, insurrections, or acts of terrorism, which, by exercise of reasonable diligent effort, the nonperforming party is unable in whole or in part to prevent or overcome.”    Despite all the hurricanes Florida has been through, there is not much legal precedent regarding force majeure clauses. These clauses are generally narrowly construed, meaning that a court would limit these clauses’ application so that they will excuse a party’s performance only for events specifically identified in the provision.  Note what is not included in the FAR/BAR definition: “epidemic” or “pandemic.”  To our knowledge, there are no Florida cases addressing the issue in this context, though that will surely change because of COVID-19.     So, what should you do now?  Tell your clients to discuss their specific situation with their attorney and apply good business judgment. Any […]

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