What If You Have to File a NY Probate During Coronavirus?

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Like other governments, New York’s Surrogate’s Courts are working to respond to operating during the Coronavirus outbreak. In light of the pandemic, the New York State court system is doing its part to reduce contact exposure between and among employees and the general public.

If a family member passes away during the coronavirus pandemic, there are a few administrative changes that survivors should know about regarding New York’s Surrogate’s Courts. Surrogate Courts are responsible for matters involving the probate of wills and the administration of estates.

However, the personal administrator of the estate should always discuss complex questions with a New York probate attorney to avoid making well-intentioned but detrimental mistakes along the way.

Current Changes to NY Surrogate Courts

As of April 13, 2020, New York State Courts, issued a notice to extend a previous order mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order states that the Surrogate’s courts will only administer essential matters. While the order does not offer specific guidance for probate, it does mention that courts can hear any case which it deems as crucial.

This description is more or less a “catch-all” provision to limit new filings and hearings that do not require immediate attention amid current health concerns. As one can imagine, the term “essential” is open to interpretation.

Individuals are asked to contact the proper venue before visiting the courthouse with the contact information below:

Courts will be able to provide additional information to the personal representative of the estate during the coronavirus pandemic. For specific questions that courts cannot answer, survivors, family members, or personal representatives must speak with a New York probate attorney for more information.

Some Estates Do Not Have to Pass Through Probate

Probate in New York is only required if the person, who passed away, left behind an inheritance or assets, such as money, homes, jewelry, businesses, and cars. Therefore, if the decedent did not leave assets, then the estate does not have to pass through probate because one does not technically exist.

Additionally, living trusts do not require the decedent to go through probate on assets placed in the trust. However, if assets were not put in the trust before his or her death, then the pour-over will go through probate for transferring ownership to the trust.

A New York Probate Attorney Will Navigate the Court System

Working with a New York probate attorney is the most practical way to determine how the estate should navigate the court system amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not to mention that different court venues will have different guidelines as to what it defines as “essential applications.”

For estate executives facing the probate process, contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L. for a consultation. Call (646) 859-5885 or submit a request through our secure contact form.

Can Barter Agreements Help Your Business?

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Bartering is the act of trading goods and services for something of value in lieu of money. While it is generally thought of as an extreme, alternative form of payment, it may be an idea that is going to become a reality amid the recent coronavirus outbreak.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic places business owners in a position where they need to get creative in generating income. Bartering is one strategy worth considering.

However, small business owners should understand that having the right bartering agreement in place is critical to ensuring a documented transaction is available in case a conflict arises later. The information about bartering agreements below is informational in nature, and questions should be discussed with a Florida contract attorney for specific legal advice.

What Is a Barter Agreement?

Not all transactions require an exchange of money for something of value you, like goods and services. A barter agreement is a type of contract that sets forth the terms and conditions of a transaction involving a trade, including the value of the deal and to whom it is being traded.

A Florida contract attorney can draft a barter agreement for the following situations:

  • Exchange of services: A barter agreement for the exchange of services will specify the tasks to be performed, manner of service, and a deliverable deadline.
  • Exchange of goods: A barter agreement for the exchange of goods will specify the quality and quantity of the relevant items.

Both parties engaged in the transaction sign the barter agreement to make it legally binding. Doing so holds everyone to the terms and conditions, as described in the contract. Business owners can use it in case a legal dispute arises later instead of arguing against a handshake agreement.

What to Include in a Barter Agreement

Like all contracts, a barter agreement must include specific information and provisions for it to be legally binding. It is essential to provide the guidance necessary that both parties understand and agree to collectively.

At a minimum, a barter agreement should contain the following:

  • Legal names of both parties and business
  • A description of the goods or services
  • Terms and conditions to establish fair market value (FMV)
  • Dates by which the exchange must take place
  • An acknowledgment of the monetary value for tax purposes
  • A termination clause
  • Breach of contract terms
  • Signature and date lines

A contract lawyer can facilitate the drafting of a barter agreement after the initial case intake. He or she may recommend that small business owners sign the contract before a notary public for additional durability. Typically, law firms have notaries on staff, so the review and signing may be done at the office.

Contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L. to Draft Your Barter Agreement

If you are considering barter agreements as part of your business during the COVID-19 outbreak, you should reach out to a Florida business law attorney at Boyer Law Firm, P.L. We can review your current business situation and provide additional recommendations to strengthen your company’s stability on a solid legal foothold.

Contact us for your complimentary case evaluation with our team of legal professionals. You can request yours by calling (305) 921-9665 or sending us a message through our secure contact form.

4 Estate Planning Tools to Prepare for Coronavirus

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The entire world has changed dramatically over the past several weeks in light of the coronavirus pandemic. As more people see loss of life occurring every day, many cannot help but wonder what they can do to tie-up their end-of-life affairs if COVID-19 finds its way to them.

The most effective and practical form of legal protection is by creating a comprehensive estate plan with a Florida estate planning lawyer. Doing so ensures that affected individuals have a carefully designed set of instructions that they can provide to their survivors in case the unthinkable happens.

Now is the right time for estate planning before it is too late. For maximum protection and control, these are the 4 estate planning documents that Florida residents should have in place:

1. Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust—or RLT, for short—is a legal solution that alleviates many of the problems that a will cannot address. The trustee places all of his or her assets into the RLT for significant advantages.

If one passes away, his or her property does not go through the probate court process and subsequent IRS taxation. While the trust technically owns the assets, the trustee has full control over its use and allocation until his or her death, at which time the successor trustee will take over.

2. “Pour-Over” Will

There is the possibility that the trustee may pass away before having a chance to place assets into the trust. The “pour-over” will is the document one uses to probate any remaining assets into the trust at the time of the decedent’s death.

It is a guarantee that the assets in the estate avoid probate alongside the same tax advantages as those already in the trust. If a pour-over will is not in place, then assets must go through probate court.

3. Advanced Healthcare Directive

When an individual is unable to make medical decisions on his or her own, then having an advanced healthcare directive gives the named power of attorney specific instructions as to how the incapacitated person would like him or her to carry them out.

Also known as a “living will,” these directions may include how to handle artificial life support, whether burial or cremation is preferred, and other healthcare decisions.

4. Durable Power of Attorney

Naming a power of attorney gives a trusted individual, typically a spouse or adult child, the authorization to carry out directives in the advanced healthcare directive.

The power of attorney is generally assigned to the successor trustee or personal representative in many cases. However, a Miami estate planning attorney can provide legal counsel as to selecting the person best-suited for the given situation.

Working with a Florida Estate Planning Attorney

Having an estate plan is not exclusive to the super-rich. Anyone can benefit from having one in place, regardless of financial means.

If you need to discuss your end-of-life affairs with a Miami estate planning lawyer, contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L. for experienced and trusted legal guidance. We will develop your estate plan promptly while minimizing in-person exposure during the coronavirus pandemic.

Request your estate evaluation today by calling (305) 921-9665 or sending us a message through our private and secure contact form.

Business Relief During the Coronavirus

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Every business in the world has been impacted by the worst health crisis since 1918 when the so-called Spanish Flu decimated the planet. Eventually, the pandemic from a century earlier claimed between 50 and 100 million lives. As of March 27th, 2020 the coronavirus has caused almost 30,000 deaths worldwide. These tragic and terrible epidemics affect everyone. They especially disrupt businesses around the world.

How the Virus is Affecting Businesses Worldwide

Even if your business hasn’t been shut down by government order, it’s probably suffering from supply chain disruptions, absenteeism and slowed consumer spending. Supply chains have been disrupted worldwide from the base materials for tech companies to parts for electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines. Absenteeism occurs when workers will not go to work, a reality for those afraid of contracting the coronavirus. One of the worst impacts the coronavirus is having on the world economies is slamming consumer spending. When people are afraid of losing their jobs they lack the confidence to spend regularly and this impacts all business sectors.

Federal Government Allocates Funds for Businesses During Coronovirus

The federal government is beginning to take this problem seriously, passing legislation to assist small business owners. Inside of the $2 trillion relief package, the U.S. Senate has offered as much as $367 billion in loans to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis. If you own a small business it’s crucial to take steps to help it survive this crisis. It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney experienced in business law to discuss applying for the programs that would be most helpful for your particular business. 

Here are some of the relief options for small businesses that have passed or are proposed:

Mandatory Sick Leave With Employer Tax Credit

On March 18th, a bill was signed into law that will provide income tax deferment for small businesses. In an effort to help businesses keep their workers on the payroll during the crisis, the law requires small businesses to pay employees sick leave at 100% of their pay (up to $511 a day) for two weeks. These payments will reduce a business’ tax liability dollar for dollar, functioning as a tax credit. However, there are both stipulations and limitations on this tax credit. First, the credit will only apply for sick leave payments made during certain dates (likely April to December, 2020). Second, the credit is not available to those businesses already benefiting from tax credit for paid medical leave. An experienced business attorney or accountant will be able to guide you through this process so that you are able to achieve the highest savings possible from this tax credit.

Low Interest Loans / Emergency Loans for Businesses

The Small Business Administration (SBA) will also be offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses that qualify with low interest rates (3.75% for most businesses and $2.75% for non-profits). However, businesses that have access to credit elsewhere, at any rate, do not qualify for these loans. Also, a business must show that they were “severely impacted” by the current coronavirus crisis. There are also proposals for zero interest loans and grants, so it might be prudent to wait to see if these options become available.

Proposed Payroll Tax Cut

FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) is currently taxed at 15.3%, with employees and employers sharing the cost equally. The proposed relief package would also help self-employed workers that are currently paying the 15.3% tax on their own. Currently, it’s unclear how large the cut would be. This proposal has received a great deal of criticism from opponents who say it doesn’t address the crucial needs of the unemployed and that it might lead to a reduction in Social Security benefits.

Business Attorneys Are Busy Helping Small Businesses

An experienced business attorney can help you stay on top of all the options to help your business survive. Safe virtual consultations are available.

Contact us today so we can discuss the best ways to take advantage of the economic relief options available for your business.

Should a Business Furlough or Layoff Employees Amid Covid-19?

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Business owners are looking for ways to mitigate revenue losses during the coronavirus pandemic, including how to handle their workforce. Some are considering furloughs and layoffs.

It goes without saying that furloughs are the best option for those who have cash flow availability. For others, layoffs are inevitable.

However, establishing a practical strategy during the coronavirus pandemic is essential to long-term growth and operations continuity. Speaking with an experienced Florida business attorney, who has experience in business disasters, will help forward-thinking business owners make the right decision.

Furlough vs. Layoff: What Is the Difference?

Furloughs and layoffs are actions that employers can take to save on payroll expenses by reducing its workforce payroll. While people sometimes use these two terms similarly, they are two vastly different strategies.

What Is a Layoff?

Layoffs are temporary separations between the employee and the company. It is predicated by the idea that work will resume when there is enough available.

Pros and Cons of Layoffs

It is an arrangement that allows displaced workers to collect unemployment benefits, and in some cases, maintain insurance coverage as an incentive to come back when a recall is issued.

However, businesses should carefully prune their workforce using this method as there is a chance for top talent to look for work elsewhere. This method is more likely to turn into a permanent loss.

What Is a Furlough?

In its simplest explanation, a furlough reduces employee hours for a specific period and is mandatory. Some companies require employees to take a furlough at some point during the year as part of their routine business practices.

Pros and Cons of Furloughs

The theory behind a furlough is that all employees experience hardship rather than just a few select individuals. It also helps companies reduce labor expenses without adding new ones.

Furlough could be an negotiated option with valuable employees to preserve the employment relationship. For the employee, it could appear a better option than layoff during a crisis that may make it difficult to find work. For the employer, reducing expenses makes the possibility of reopening the business more likely.

Implications that Business Owners Should Consider Discussing with Florida Business Attorney

There are specific aspects for business owners and managers to consider carefully. Florida follows governing state and federal laws when establishing how companies can handle furloughs and layoffs.

An Orlando business attorney will help them deal with the following:

  • Unemployment benefits advice
  • FLSA compliance
  • WARN Act compliance
  • Wage and hour considerations
  • How to handle exempt and non-exempt workers
  • Company communications
  • Furlough and layoff rollout strategies

Taking the time to plan for the long-term is the most practical approach during a temporary situation. An Orlando business lawyer will help agile companies weather the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Need Legal Advice? Boyer Law Firm is Here to Help!

Making the right choice when lives are at stake is one of the most challenging parts of running a business. Companies can perform their due diligence and discuss how to handle employees and economic impact issues with an experienced Floirda business attorney at Boyer Law Firm, P.L.

Request a case evaluation with our legal team by calling (904) 236-5317, emailing office@boyerlawfirm.com, or sending us a message through our contact form.