We are all wondering what life is going to look like over the next few weeks and months as the country re-opens and we begin to get our feet under us again. No one can predict every challenge we will face, but here is some information to help you navigate from a legal perspective:
Four Ways to Navigate the New Normal
Know Your Employment Rights
You may already have heard of the two acts issued at the beginning of April to protect you if you need to take leave because of a COVID-19 related issue. Just because we are easing social restrictions does not mean people aren’t going to keep getting sick, so it’s important to understand your rights if you become ill.
The Emergency Paid Leave Act (EPSLA) requires your employer to give you two weeks paid leave for a number of COVID-19 related absences. This Act applies to almost every employer, but notice and documentation are required.
The Emergency Family Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) requires your employer to give up to twelve weeks of partially paid leave if your childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
For more details about these acts, click here.
Watch Out for Scams
Scammers notoriously find new ways to swindle people during times of stress and confusion. A number of new scams have been reported since the onset of COVID-19 – things like treatment scams, supply scams, provider scams, charity scams, and investment scams.
If you run into:
- Calls or texts asking for verification of your bank account to release federal government checks,
- Messages claiming you need to take a mandatory online medical test,
- Texts claiming to be from the WHO, CDC, or other governmental agency, or
- Suspicious communication from charities,
You should act according to these guidelines:
- Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Keep in mind that the elderly are often the most likely to be targeted by scammers. If you are elderly yourself or have an elderly loved one, be on the lookout for suspicious activity during this time.
Understand the New Retirement Laws
The CARES Act has affected retirement accounts. You need to understand how these new retirement laws will impact you, but be careful – though the laws have been passed, we are still unsure about how they will be implemented. The three major changes are:
- Required Minimum Contributions are no longer required for 2020.
- The amount you can borrow from certain plans has been doubled.
- Distributions of up to $100,000.00, without penalty, are authorized if you have been affected by COVID-19.
These changes, in addition to the recently passed Secure Act and the current market, are creating some interesting and unique opportunities from a retirement perspective. If you have questions about any of these, please reach out to your financial advisor for more details.
Have Your Directives Ready
As we’ve discussed in other COVID-19 posts, now is an important time for you to have your Financial Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive. As we begin to interact with others again, we’re taking the necessary risk of exposing ourselves to the virus, and if you or a loved one gets sick it’s important to have these documents in place:
A Financial Power of Attorney is a document that gives someone else the legal authority to handle your finances (pay bills, write checks, etc.) if you are incapacitated.
An Advance Medical Directive is a document that allows you to specify which types of medical treatment you want or don’t want and select someone to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated.
If you already have these in place, reread your documents and ask these questions:
- Are your agents still correct?
- Do you have the originals?
- Do your agents know where the originals are?
For more information about each document and for a guide on how to pick agents, read “Who Should I Choose As My Agent?”
If you need more detailed information on any of these topics, please contact us. Stay safe and healthy!