10 legal issues you should consider addressing during the COVID-19 pandemic
We know you are being inundated with information regarding COVID-19.
This is an unprecedented, global epidemic and no one has the ability to absolutely forecast its long-term residual effects.
While we continue to grapple with the epidemic, there are some legal actions you should consider taking in order to help mitigate potential problems in your businesses and personal finances that often result from economic uncertainty, temporary business and public resource closures and quarantines. Here are 10 legal issues you should consider addressing during this time:
- If you don’t have a will, make one now. Even if you are sick or if you are actually in the hospital, it is not too late. You can get these documents notarized and witnessed without people being in the room with you. Our laws are evolving in real-time to allow things such as remote notarization to occur so that people can get these types of things done.
- If you don’t have someone that can get medical information on your behalf (perhaps you are no longer married or have never been married and you don’t have any adult children) you may want to execute a medical health care proxy in favor of a close friend or loved one. This allows people to talk to the hospital for you if you can’t.
- You may want to execute a general Power of Attorney in favor of a spouse or trusted loved one, just in case you are out of commission for a while and that person needs to help you manage your affairs – this may be needed in the event you have been quarantined overseas.
- Before you have any significant debts coming your way, you may want to consider a self-settled trust in South Dakota or Alaska to protect some of your assets in the event this gets worse before it gets better. If you need to file personal bankruptcy, it may protect those assets from creditors.
- If you are an employer, read the new Coronavirus bill just signed into law by the President – you may owe sick leave pay to your employees affected by the pandemic. You may also be entitled to tax credits for that leave – this also applies even if you are self-employed and miss work! Also, know your responsibilities for accrued vacation pay and other notice requirements if you have to lay off employees.
- If you are an employee, look at the previous paragraph and make sure your rights are protected.
- Make sure you set money aside for 2019 income taxes or get on a payment plan. Although the IRS has now given us a break on paying taxes they didn’t relieve us of the obligation, but just gave everyone more time to pay.
- Do not use money set aside for payroll taxes for anything else – even if you do business through a corporation or an LLC – federal law imposes personal, non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, liability for use of payroll and tax withholdings for anything other than payment to the government. The penalties are substantial.
- Check operating and shareholder agreements for provisions regarding shortfalls of cash – do you have capital contribution requirements coming up? If you do not have such agreements, now may be a good time to discuss these issues with your partners.
- Review your insurance policies, business and personal, to determine whether this pandemic results in a covered loss for you. Remember, if you do not make a claim as provided for in your policy, you will be waiving your right to recover benefits.
Older Lundy & Alvarez has attorneys that work exclusively in the areas of wills, trusts, and estates as well as business law. We are available around the clock to help you get through this time. If you have questions about, or want to take, any of the above-referenced actions call or text me directly on my cell phone 813-857-2248 for a complimentary consultation to discuss your options.
Harry Teichman has been a trusted counsel to his clients for almost 20 years. These clients include franchise and multi-unit business owners, doctors and other professionals, startup fundraisers, not for profits and real estate developers. He represents businesses and their owners in formation, daily operations and the structuring of their joint ventures all over the world. This includes advice on corporate structure including tax planning as well as succession planning for the next generations.