No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks….
Well, not exactly! Most governors have ordered schools to close until the beginning of the 2020/21 school year in September. Our home state of Connecticut is among them, and we continue to be grateful to Governor Lamont for putting our health and safety first. While Alice Cooper probably wrote those lyrics as a prelude to summer celebration, this year’s summer is going to be mighty different from past years.
We are sincerely missing two of our Client Advocates (Amanda and Adrienne) who both have young ones at home and have been unable to work. We’re not sure either intended to be a teacher, but they’re doing their best to adapt to homeschooling, as many of us are. We thank you for your patience as we have dealt with their very unexpected and unplanned absence – their knowledge, enthusiasm, and availability to our clients is dearly missed. We look forward to them returning as soon as possible but, with school out until September, it may be a while.
Some of our other staff members are able to work remotely, which seems to be working well. Luckily our estate planning and probate paralegal, Erin, has been able to continue to work in-house which has been a huge help.
We are fortunate to welcome a new legal assistant, Katina. She is a Quinnipiac Law student who is helping us fill the gap until Amanda and Adrienne return. We are excited to put her extensive education into practice as she has both a legal education and a customer service background, having once worked for Judge Jeanine on TV! Katina is currently working full time in our office along with our three attorneys (only 1 per floor, to ensure proper distancing), so if you call our office you may have a chance to speak with her soon. We expect her to continue at Beckett Law, LLC as a legal intern once school starts in the Fall…although whether colleges will even reopen in August is still a big unknown.
This whole situation has been an adjustment for us. As you know, we are the type of firm who greets folks in person with smiles and handshakes (and sometimes hugs). We like to sit around the table with our clients and share coffee, snacks, laughter and sometimes tears. It has been quite the shift to close our doors to the public and work in a mixed virtual environment, but we aren’t going to risk our client’s nor our staff’s health, so we continue to work through it day by day. At this point, we expect to continue to work virtually for as long as possible and don’t expect to reopen until at least June 30th. We want to see how the Phase 1 reopening (starting as of May 20th) works out first. Some folks think it’s an unnecessary precaution but our mantra throughout this pandemic has been and will remain: better safe than sorry!
On another topic…let’s talk money! Nowadays, we all have concerns about our financial future regardless of our situation. The Paycheck Protection Program which loaned out 349 billion dollars in just 13 days got funded another 310 billion dollars to help small businesses remain afloat through the pandemic. Out of work individuals are getting additional unemployment income of $600/week as of last Friday, landlords have been instructed to work with tenants who can’t pay their rent, and lending institutions have changed their policies to allow more lenient criteria for granting forbearance on mortgage loans.
If you haven’t asked for a mortgage forbearance yet, you may want to consider doing so. What exactly will your forbearance look like? Well, it depends on your bank. Some banks are offering repayment options for a 6-month or one year forbearance with repayment at the end of your term without incurring additional interest. Some are offering the same with the understanding that they will charge interest (which could be formidable). Some lenders are expecting the six months worth of bills to be paid in the seventh month, so be sure to ask questions and get clear answers.
If you’ve already communicated with your bank and decided not to seek a forbearance, you might want to call again as you may find that they have adopted new repayment options. And if you decide mortgage forbearance is the right option for you, you can go forward confidently as the forbearance does not positively nor negatively affect your credit score. In addition to mortgage forbearance some lenders are offering forbearance options for other types of loans so reach out to your bank for information on this. It seems there are as many types of offers as there are lending institutions.
Beckett Law LLC, and its subsidiary firms CT Bankruptcy and Estate Planning Law Center will continue to stay abreast of all news, announcements, and policies that have developed as a result of this pandemic. We value your business and the relationship we have built with you over the years. We urge you to heed the CDC’s guidance about hand-washing and physical distancing and we are confident that we will be able to meet face-to-face and shake hands again soon.