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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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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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