– Est. –
1927

FINRA Issues Warning: Pandemic Volatility Highlights Oil-Linked ETPs Unsuitable for Some Investors

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, issued an eye-catching warning in Regulatory Notice 20-14 about a particularly complex and risky type of security: Oil and Gas Exchange Traded Products, or ETPs. High concentrations in the oil and gas sector, especially with complex, risky, and volatile products like ETPs, may become a frequent subject for investor litigation in the upcoming year and fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic. To quote FINRA, “the performance of such products may be linked to unfamiliar indices or reference benchmarks, making them difficult for the average investor to comprehend.”

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Oath of Office: Colleen Muñoz Joins the Oregon State Bar

We are happy to introduce the newest attorney in the SYK family – Colleen Muñoz.

Colleen is a a graduate of Lewis & Clark. During her time in law school, Colleen clerked for Federal Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman, volunteered with Innovation Law Lab to assist detained individuals in presenting their asylum claims, and clerked at Passage Immigration Law. Colleen joined SYK as a law clerk during her third year of law school, where she found a home to begin her professional career as a lawyer. She passed the Oregon State Bar earlier this year. Her practice is centered around commercial and fiduciary litigation focusing on real property, employment, and construction law.

Due to COVID-19, her swearing in was a little different than the usual ceremony. Judge Katherine Tennyson joined us via Zoom to administer Colleen’s Oath of Office.

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Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act Signed Into Law

On Friday, June 7, 2020, the President signed the ‘‘Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020’’ (PPPFA) into law. This Act, recently passed in Congress by large bipartisan votes, makes a number of significant changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was passed by Congress on March 25, 2020, as part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Here are the key changes made by Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act.

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Senior Loneliness Line

Helpful Video on Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Application

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and how our clients can maximize the amount that is forgiven. While this is a bit of a moving target, our friends at Geffen Mesher have put together a helpful video on working through the Small Business Association’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Forgiveness Application that we wanted to commend to your attention.

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Because Your Government CARES

Valerie Sasaki, of Samuels Yoelin Kantor, LLP facilitated a “Cocktails and Conversation” discussion with the Portland Chapter of Women in Insurance and Financial Services, which explored the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act. The CARES Act is Congress’ comprehensive legislation to provide relief to individuals, families, and businesses that are adversely affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Despite frequent news coverage and criticism, the scope and effect of the CARES Act can seem impenetrable because it contains so many separate moving parts. In this discussion, Ms. Sasaki walked through the different components of the CARES Act and explained how each works to combat the economic hardship brought about by the Coronavirus epidemic.

The CARES Act is a $2 trillion economic relief package that creates new aid programs and expands existing programs. State and local governments will receive $339.8 billion, the majority of which goes to specific COVID-19 response efforts. The rest of the state and local government relief is divided between education, community development, and family assistance programs.

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Notice and Comment Period for Proposed Corporate Activity Tax (“CAT”) Rules Ends

Time marches on and the time to comment on several of the Oregon Department of Revenue’s Corporate Activity Tax (“CAT”) rules ends today, May 26 at 5pm. While the Oregon State Bar Taxation Section did not officially comment on the rules, three attorneys, including Samuels Yoelin Kantor, LLP’s Valerie Sasaki, did submit comments on the math problem that is Proposed OAR 150-317-1200. Essentially, the CAT is only imposed on a taxpayer’s Oregon receipts. The question of how to calculate that though, has led to what we believe are some unintended flawed results for taxpayers that have costs and labor concentrated relative to certain income streams. 

While the section did not officially comment, several folks whose names don’t appear on the final comments contributed to discussing the comments and accompanying examples, which you can find below as downloads. We are proud to practice as a part of a community that values good tax policy, even in difficult times.

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Powerful Words: Positive and Negative Language

Susan Russel shares, through the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, how powerful both positive or negative language can be.  These tips are helpful to keep in mind, whether you are managing a difficult legal situation with your counsel or even if you are managing a quarantine.

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Scam Alert Network

Top 5 Tips From My Service as a Pro Tem Judge

With the growing divide between judicial budgets and the demand for court services, Oregon continues to look to part-time judges to help bridge the gap. These part-time judges are known as Pro Tem Judges.

As a private attorney serving as a Pro Tem Judge in the Washington County Probate Court, my public service has been a privilege and honor. And having one foot in both private practice and one inside the Court has provided me with a unique experience. The following 5 tips are specific to my familiarity of the Washington County Probate Court, but most of these tips are good best practices to apply to any probate matter in an Oregon court.

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COVID-19 & Forbearance Agreements

With new times come new terms. Six months ago we had never heard of Coronavirus or social distancing.  Now, we hear those terms so often we look forward to the day we never hear them again.  Another term we’re starting hear in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak is forbearance. Prior to COVID-19, most of us probably didn’t know what forbearance meant. Unfortunately, the financial impact of COVID-19 will likely cause many businesses and individuals to seek forbearance agreements with their creditors. 

Forbearance means the action of refraining from exercising a legal right, especially enforcing the payment of a debt. A forbearance agreement is an agreement between a lender and a borrower (or a creditor and a debtor) to temporarily suspend the payments owed by the borrower to the lender. Forbearance agreements are often entered into in lieu of the lender filing a lawsuit to foreclose a mortgage or trust deed.

Borrowers, or debtors, adversely affected by the Coronavirus outbreak may need to enter into forbearance agreements with their creditors if unable to make their payments when due. Pursuant to the CARES Act, persons who have a federally backed mortgage can seek forbearance of their mortgage payments for up to nearly a year (they can initially apply for 180 days and then seek a 180 day extension). Many mortgages are federally backed. Interested persons should contact their loan servicer to determine if their mortgage is federally backed.  Even if a mortgage isn’t federally backed, given the widespread financial impact of the outbreak, there is a fair chance the lender has some forbearance or other options available.    

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Stimulus Checks Incorrectly Sent to Deceased People – What To Do Now?

The recently passed CARES Act included many provisions to provide economic aid, relief and stimulus for America. As a part of the new law many Americans will receive stimulus checks officially called Economic Impact Payments.

US citizens and permanent residents qualify to receive $1,200 for single and head of household filers, and $2,400 for married couple filer, with an adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000 for individuals who file as single or married filing separately, $112,500 for head of household filers, and $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns. Reduced amounts will be sent to those who have a higher AGI. However, those with an AGI over $99,001 for single or married filing jointly, $136,501 for head of household, and $198,001 for married filing jointly, will not receive any money.

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POLST & COVID-19: Are Your Legal Documents Current & Do They Reflect Your Wishes?

Dr. Susan Tolle, Chair of the Oregon POLST Coalition, created a 5-minute video that guides viewers through a POLST form (Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). This standardized, single page, brightly colored form can be vital for healthcare providers in managing fragile or seriously ill patients towards the end of life, and particularly helpful for managing one’s wishes for intensive care treatment and assisted breathing with ventilators. 

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Reviewing Investment Account Statements During Market Volatility – Five Red Flags

Seeing that account balance number can hurt. And not all investment losses are potentially recoverable or due to inappropriate recommendations by a financial advisor. But in times of market volatility, reviewing investment account statements might reveal claims for losses that are actionable and recoverable – if prompt action is taken.

Warren Buffet’s much repeated quote, “only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked,” rings true once again today in the sawtooth market volatility of the coronavirus global pandemic. The Dow Jones Industrial average hit a record high of 29,551 in mid-February. Today it stands about 20% lower than that, having seen the price of crude oil slipping into negative territory and other wild news. Some market sectors have been hit disproportionately, and there is no end in sight to the turmoil. Investors are waking to unexpected margin calls while struggling to maintain liquid assets.

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Guardians & COVID-19: Facts You Should Know

The National Guardianship Association, National Center for State Courts, and ABA Commission on Law and Aging created a helpful “FAQs for Guardians about the COVID-19 Pandemic”.

Things are shifting swiftly, from state to state or facility to facility, so this information about access or contact with vulnerable adults and access with the courts will provide some guidance. 

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The Pandemic Makes the Power of Attorney More Important Than Ever

Do you have a loved one living in a care facility and due to Covid-19 they are not able to leave? Or are you self-isolating in your home and unable to run your typical errands? Are any of your or your loved one’s financial or medical needs being unmet due to the Corona Virus? If so, you’re not alone.

I recently received a call from a daughter whose elderly mother was stuck in a care facility.  Both the daughter and her mother were befuddled because all of the mother’s financial affairs were on hold.

As a general practice the daughter would organize her mother’s monthly bills and go through them with her. She would help her mother write checks to pay her doctor co-pays, her cable bill, etc. Also the daughter would join her mother on calls to manage her mother’s banking and investments needs.

Now the daughter can’t visit her mother. And both women wanted to know if they would be in trouble with bill collectors or at the very least pay a lot of late fees if they were not able to timely address mom’s financial affairs.

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Retirement Plan Participant May Elect Loan Repayment Deferrals

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 does more than aid small businesses. In addition to the PPP loans that received the bulk of the media attention, the CARES Act authorizes qualified retirement plan sponsors to amend retirement plans (401(a), 401(k), 403(b) and government plans) to help participants (qualified employees) who have been adversely economically impacted by the Corona Virus by allowing the deferral of loan payments. Once such an amendment is implemented by a plan sponsor, participants who have outstanding loan amounts from the qualified retirement plan may elect to defer loan payments for up to one year (with interest accruing) between now and December 31, 2020. 

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SBA Announces Reopening of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that it will resume accepting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications from participating lenders on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 10:30 am EDT.  The announcement comes following the April 23, 2020, passage by Congress of H.R.266, the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.” The President signed the bill into law on April 24, 2020. Among other appropriations to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, the bill adds an additional $310 billion in funding for the PPP.  The initial $349 billion in funding was exhausted in less than two weeks following the launch of the PPP.

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Senate Approves Additional Funds for Paycheck Protection Program

On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 266, the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” by voice vote. The bill appropriates an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which exhausted its initial $349 billion in funding within two weeks of Congress’ passage of the CARES Act. The bill also provided $60 billion for community banks and smaller lenders, $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing, and $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants.

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Where’s My Stimulus Check?

The IRS sent out the first wave of stimulus payments this  past week to around 80 million Americans. In order to speed up the process, the IRS has prioritized sending payments to Americans that have previously submitted their direct deposit information with the agency. Those that have not authorized a direct deposit account with the IRS will receive their stimulus payment in paper check form. However, the IRS estimates that it only has the capacity to mail out 5 million checks a week, so many Americans will not receive their payment until likely August or later.

Based on the income level eligibility requirements, at least 90% of Americans should qualify for at least some amount of stimulus payment. If you think you should have received your stimulus payment by now, here are several reasons why the IRS has delayed your payment.

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Real Estate

COVID-19 Federal, State, and Local Prohibitions Against Non-Payment Evictions

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged Oregon State Governor Kate Brown to issue a Stay at Home order effective statewide in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. As a result, many individuals are out of work, causing emotional stress and financial hardship.

Federal, state, and local governments have each taken action in an attempt to reduce financial stress on residential and commercial tenants.

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). In Section 4024, the CARES Act imposed immediate protections for some residential tenants. Specifically, the CARES Act placed a federal eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent on covered properties. Landlords are temporarily prohibited from filing new eviction actions for nonpayment of rent as a result of COVID-19, as well as prohibited from charging late fees or other penalties for tenants’ nonpayment of rent. It is critical for landlord to review the definition of covered properties, and confer with a knowledgeable attorney is they are unsure whether they own a covered property.

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