Please note that, in light of Governor Murphy's recent "stay at home" order in New Jersey due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC's attorneys and staff are working remotely at this time. However, we are still ready, willing, and able to address all of your individual and business legal needs. Please contact us by phone at (973) 890-0004 or email at info@esqnj.com. We are committed to providing the same high level of legal services that our clients have come to expect over the years. Thank you.

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As a result of the Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”), the federal government has passed significant legislation in an attempt to provide relief to businesses small-business-300x215struggling with economic hardships as a result of widespread closures and stay-at-home orders.  One major part of these governmental actions includes the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (also known as the “CARES Act”) on April 2, 2020.

The CARES Act provides for approximately $2 trillion in aid through expanded unemployment assistance, individual relief checks, tax credits, loans, and grants to businesses which were closed or significantly effected by COVID-19, and funding to hospitals and health care facilities. Of this, approximately $350 billion was allocated to the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP).   When that money was almost immediately sought by the millions of businesses seeking assistance, an additional $175 billion was additionally allocated.

The PPP limited its funding to each company to two and a half times the company’s average monthly payroll costs.  While the PPP is considered a loan program, the funds may largely (or entirely) be forgiven as long as the company uses the funds for approved expenses. The details of exactly which expenses would be considered approved and how these funds could be used has been the subject of much uncertainty over the past several weeks.  Indeed, the SBA (Small Business Administration) has posted additional rules and guidance on the matter more than 10 times in two months.

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As a result of the Coronavirus (COV-19), millions of small businesses have been forced to close their business operations entirely with seemingly no end in sight. small-business-300x200 Naturally, this has led to a spike in bankruptcy filings.  However, many small businesses have held out hope for federal stimulus aid before deciding on whether bankruptcy is the right option for them.

The enactment of a new bankruptcy law, the Small Business Reorganization Act, may provide small businesses suffering from COV-19 related financial issues with relief.  The purpose of the act was to make the benefits that larger business entities may take advantage of when filing for a Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy easier to access for smaller business entities seeking relief from debt without going out of business.  The Act simplifies the process by allowing small businesses to file a Subchapter 5 bankruptcy reorganization.

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national-gallery-of-art-1380105-m-300x248Since the COV-19 outbreak began, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment.  The increase in unemployment filings have been the result of businesses of all sizes being forced to shut down entirely or significantly limit their operations.  As a result, many people, both employers and employees, are seeing less income or no income at all while still being expected to pay their monthly payments such as rent, mortgage, car loan, credit card bills, and insurance.  These financial obligations are especially devastating for people and businesses that were already having trouble making those monthly payments prior to the COV-19 outbreak.

If a person and/or business is experiencing financial trouble, has significant debt, and/or is subject to collection actions such as a foreclosure or a collections lawsuit, bankruptcy may be a potential remedy.  One of the major benefits of filing for bankruptcy is the immediate automatic stay of collection actions and lawsuits.

The type of bankruptcy that may be appropriate for an individual and/or business depends on several factors.  For more information on the different types of bankruptcies, check out our posts on Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.

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supreme-administrative-court-3565618_960_720-300x200A holographic will is a will that is handwritten, signed and dated by the testator (the person whose will it is).  Under New Jersey estate planning Law, holographic wills can be probated and will serve to ensure that the Testator’s assets are bequeathed according to the Testator’s wishes.  In fact, a holographic will is valid even in the absence of witnesses.   While a formal, written will with witnesses prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney is always preferable, a holographic will can be used in an emergency.

During the current health crisis, particularly for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or those who are at particular risk, it may be better to have a holographic will than to have no will at all.  However, it is important to know the requirements as well as the risks and downsides to using such a handwritten will.   If at all possible, it is certainly better for everyone involved, from the testator to the executor and beneficiaries, for there to be a properly executed traditional will.

The crucial requirement under New Jersey wills and estate law,  for a handwritten will to be admitted to probate in New Jersey is that the will was written by hand, signed and dated by the decedent and that the signature and key provisions are clearly written by the same hand and that the handwriting is identifiable as that of the decedent.   To prove that in court usually requires testimony by a handwriting expert and/or witnesses who are familiar with the decedent’s handwriting.   The holographic will must be presented to the Superior Court by an order to show cause in order to be probated, even if all interested parties agree that the will is valid and represents the decedent’s wishes and intentions about their estate.

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The Coronavirus (COV-19) has had a negative impact on everyone physically, mentally, and financially.  Businesses are no different.  Small and medium sized businesses are especially vulnerable in these troubled times.  They are faced with difficult decisions such as whether to temporarily lay off their employees or which bills to pay when little or no revenue is being received.

At McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC, we focus a portion of our practice on advising small and medium sized businesses when faced with these difficult financial decisions.  When a business becomes overwhelmed and unable to meet its financial obligations, filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be a great means to get the business back on track.

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As a result of the Coronavirus (COV-19), the unemployment rate has increased rapidly and reports suggest that the unemployment rate may reach 30% in the country.   This immediate loss of income for many individuals and families have left them unable to meet their continuing financial obligations such as paying for their mortgage, credit card bills, medical bills, etc.

If an individual or family is in a position where they are behind on their mortgage or other bills, filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be good option for getting them back on track financially.

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The need to file bankruptcy can come quickly and abruptly due to a serious life event such as a serious medical diagnosis that results in large medical bills or being terminated or laid off from a job that results in a loss of income.  Many individuals have experienced this as a result of the Coronavirus (COV-19), which has caused these individuals to feel as though they are “drowning in debt.”

If an individual or family is in a position where they are significant debt and cannot pay their bills, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be an appropriate step to get them a “fresh start” financially.

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The Federal and State Government has set up avenues of relief to assist businesses in these hard times in the form of loans and grants.  Below is rundown of the New

Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, through which New Jersey is offering Coronavirus relief to small businesses.

What is it?

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In this time of economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus and the social distancing required to slow it, our attorneys and staff are helping New Jersey sba-disasterbusinesses seek financing under the new Federal Small Business Paycheck Protection Program.  The basic elements of the program are below.  Call us to obtain help. Applications are being accepted starting April 3rd, and funding is limited, so time is of the essence.

Small Business Paycheck Protection Program

The new Paycheck Protection Program by the Federal Government will provide small businesses with funds to meet payroll and benefits costs, payroll taxes, vacation and sick leave payments, rent, mortgage interest, and utilities for up to  for up to eight weeks.  If the funds are used solely for these expenses and the number of the business’s employees stays the same, the loan can be fully forgiven (it is expected that seventy five percent of the forgiven amount will go to payroll expenses).  In other words, the loan is converted to a grant and does not need to be repaid.  The requirement can be met by retaining employees or quickly rehiring them by June 30, 2020.  If the number of full-time employees is reduced then the forgiveness will be reduced, and a pro rata portion of the loan will need to be repaid.  Only one loan may be taken.  The non-payroll costs need to have been incurred before February 15, 2020.

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Epidemic, Coronavirus, Lurking, Virus
As a result of the coronavirus (“COVID19”), the state and federal governments have been taking significant steps to enact laws to assist with relief efforts, particularly in relation to the economic strain that many individuals, families, and businesses are facing as a result of widespread closures, business limitations, and stay-at-home orders.

The federal government previously passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which provides emergency relief in relation to job protection and paid leave. Now Congress is working on a new stimulus bill which would provide $2 trillion in relief aid through several different avenues.  This bill has not yet been passed and therefore is still subject to change at this point. However, it appears that several core areas are likely to remain and be ultimately signed into law.

This includes: unemployment assistance, rebates to individuals (relief checks), tax credits to businesses which were closed or significantly effected by COVID-19 and continued to pay employees, bailout loans for major companies such as airlines and hotels (this is perhaps the area most disputed in Congress and therefore most subject to change), and funding to hospitals and health care facilities.

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