Here are some recent federal, state, and local mandates over the past few weeks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:
On March 13, 2020, the Supreme Court of Alabama suspended all in-person courtroom proceedings through April 16, 2020. However, certain in-person proceedings may still be available for proceedings related to protection from abuse matters; emergency child custody and protection orders; emergency mental health orders; emergency protection of elderly or vulnerable persons matters; and other exempted proceedings.
Here in Jackson County, the Courthouse is closed until the end of March.
On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Medicare expanded coverage for Telemedicine nationwide to help seniors with health problems stay home to avoid COVID-19 coronavirus. Telemedicine allows patients to make virtual visits to their doctors using technology such as Skype and FaceTime from the comfort of their own homes. Some lawyers are using video conferencing to meet with clients since a lot of work doesn’t require going to the courthouse.
On Friday, March 20, 2020, the IRS extended the tax filing deadline from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. You may still want to talk with your accountant though. With record low interest rates and stock market volatility, you may find opportunities to take advantage of tax-advantaged wealth transfer strategies. The possibilities include:
- Simply making gifts of temporarily depreciated assets either outright or in trust; refinancing existing related party loans or making new ones at current lower interest rates;
- Selling a temporarily depreciated asset to a grantor trust;
- Converting a temporarily depreciated IRA to a Roth IRA and incurring less income tax;
- getting a larger charitable deduction for a charitable remainder trust thanks to lower interest rates.
And now the Senate has approved a $2 trillion stimulus package to help alleviate economic pressure caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Here are a few provisions which may impact your own situation.
- $600 a week for up to 4 months in addition to your Alabama unemployment
- $1,200 checks to singles making less than $75,000 a year which phases out for those making more than $99,000.
- $2,400 checks to married couples making less than $150,000 which phases out for couples making more than $198,000
- $500 per child but this is tied to the parent(s) income level
- $500 billion in loan programs for businesses
- A two-year deferment of payroll tax credits for qualifying employers
Use your extra time at home to review your estate plan. See if your current fiduciaries listed in your will, trust, power of attorney, and advance directive for healthcare are still accurate and available to step in if needed, in case you become severely ill.
And of course, stay healthy by limiting your potential exposure, especially now that the first death due to COVID-19 has occurred in Jackson County.