CDC Guidelines for COVID19 Workplace Safety as Businesses Re-Open

Businesses grapple with safety issues while cautiously reopening.
Businesses grapple with safety issues while cautiously re-opening.

Communities are starting to ease their COVID19 restrictions, which means many businesses will be re-opening under new guidelines. While this is welcome news for many business owners, questions remain about workplace safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an updated reference site for businesses with a guide to ongoing mitigation and resources for COVID19 prevention and support.

The site offers a special section for Frequently Asked Questions on the following topics: Suspected or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in the Workplace, Reducing the Spread of COVID-19 in Workplaces, Healthy Business Operations, Cleaning and Disinfection in the Workplace, and Critical Infrastructure.

The Department of Labor also has a thorough safety guide compiled under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) available for download. This 35-page document is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It does contain recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. Download the OSHA guide at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

For more information on CDC guidance on other COVID19 issues that may affect you see https://www.galliganmanning.com/covid19-update-cdc-recommends-care-plans-for-both-older-adults-and-caregivers/.

Resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Businesses and Workplaces: Plan, Prepare and Respond, updated April 20, 2020.

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Coronavirus Causes Increase in Estate Plan Updates

Many estate plan updates are being done by video conference.
Many estate plan updates are being done by video conference.

With the ever-increasing number of deaths from the coronavirus in Europe and the U.S., many people are now focusing on getting their estate plans in order. Phone meetings or videoconferences with estate planning attorneys have become the new way of updating estate plans, says Barron’s in the article “The Coronavirus Has Americans Scrambling to Set Their Estate Plans. Here Are Some Key Things to Know.” This is the case at Galligan & Manning where we have been meeting with our clients by phone or video conference and arranging for documents to be executed in the safety of our clients’ homes.

People are worried, and they are in a hurry too.

Here are a few tips:

Everyone should have three basic documents: a last will or revocable living trust, a financial durable power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney. These documents will allow assets to be distributed, give another person the ability to make financial decisions, if you are too sick to do so, and  allow another person to talk to medical professionals and make medical desisions on your behalf . These same documents are also a good idea for any young adults in the family, anyone older than 18 in Texas.

However, there’s more. In addition to these basic documents, everyone needs to review their beneficiary designations on assets that include bank accounts, IRAs, annuities, insurance policies and any other assets. If family situations have changed, these may be out of date.

Also, parents of minor children need to execute documents appointing guardians to care for their minor children in the event the parent is unable to do so.

While young adults may be more worried about the financial impact of the pandemic, seniors and the elderly are concerned about having documents in order. Wealthy people are concerned about the impact that the pandemic may have on estate planning law, and some are engaged in planning to make substantial gifts, in case the current estate and give tax exemptions are lowered.

Specific issues to be discussed with an estate planning attorney:

  • The advantages of certain trusts, which provide an opportunity to direct how assets will be held, invested and distributed before and after death.
  • Financial durable powers of attorney, which appoint an agent to make financial decisions.
  • Medical powers of attorney which let people designate an agent to make health decisions on their behalf
  • HIPAA Releases which allow family members receive health care and medical information from your health care providers.
  • Living wills, which allow people to designate whether to provide life-prolonging treatment, if in a terminal state

To learn more about what you need to consider when updating your estate plan see https://www.galliganmanning.com/estate-planning-life-stages/.

Reference: Barron’s (March 22, 2020) “The Coronavirus Has Americans Scrambling to Set Their Estate Plans. Here Are Some Key Things to Know”

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Qualifying for Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness

Steps to take for PPP Loan forgiveness
Steps to take for PPP Loan forgiveness

This is important news for those who received a loan through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). You may recall that the PPP was part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package. The purpose of the loan is to help small businesses impacted by coronavirus.  One of the most valuable aspects of this program is that these small business loans can be converted to grants and be fully forgiven if used to keep employees on the payroll.

While there is still confusion around exactly what steps business owners must take to qualify for forgiveness, Forbes recently suggested loan recipients take the following three steps now.

1: Use all of the funds you receive to pay your employees. Be aware that is mathematically impossible to get the full 100% forgiveness simply by paying the same wages that your PPP application was based on. This is because the loans were calculated at 2-1/2 times your monthly payroll, and you will have only eight weeks (from the day you received funding) to disburse the loan funds.

What to do? You can use the rest of the funds on permissible expenses (business rents, mortgage interest, and utilities, with some restrictions). But it appears the safest thing to do (“safe” meaning likelihood of achieving full loan forgiveness) will be to increase your payroll, either the amount per employee or the number of employees you have on payroll, or by paying bonuses, etc.

2: But beware – any amount paid to a single employee (including yourself) over an annualized $100,000/year will not count towards forgiveness.

3: Start these payments from the very date you receive the money, or as close to that as possible, and make sure all your pay periods fall within the 8-week window. This is a tricky little point; forgiveness appears to be calculated on a cash basis, in which case, accrued payroll with a pay date after the 8-week period won’t count.

Finally, remember that managing your business through these difficult times is a balancing act. In other words, don’t put your business in danger just to be sure your loan is fully forgiven. The last thing you want to do right now is sabotage the long-term health of your business. Even if your loan is not 100 percent forgiven, the remainder will convert to a one percent loan.

The best advice? Invest your time now on business strategy, forecast different scenarios, and have a plan to grow out of these challenging times.

Learn more about other coronavirus issues that may affect you at https://www.galliganmanning.com/update-coronavirus-and-irs-deadlines-filing-extended-to-july-15/

Resources: Forbes, For Up To 100% PPP Loan Forgiveness, Take These 3 Steps The Very Moment You Get Your Loan, April 23, 2020; US Chamber of Commerce, CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY LOANS Small Business Guide and Checklist, updated April 23, 2020

 

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