We at CMDR strive to keep you informed of ways that we can help as we emerge and slowly try to get to a “New Normal.” Over the course of the last three months, there have been several announcements by our firm about our practices, as well as how the Massachusetts Governor’s office and court system has been trying to assist residents through a difficult time. Here we list all the continuing relevant information.
CMDR wants you to know:
We are mediating remotely
We are offering complimentary consultations
We are responding to emails and reviewing documents remotely
And, we are answering all calls the same (business) day
Give us a call to see if mediation might help
Parenting for Separated and Divorced Parents in the Age of Covid-19 (Originally Published 3/23/2020)
Separation and divorce carries many challenges that parents need to face individually and jointly. They need to establish two functioning households, they need to finance these households, they need to agree on schedules for being with their children—all undertaken when tensions and anxieties are at heightened levels. Despite the hurdles already surmounted by couples living apart and parenting their children, nothing compares to the pandemic currently upending the very norms and rules to which we are accustomed. Now is the time that we need to carve out a different space that allows children and families to be safe and well in uncertain and hazardous times. Read more here.
Relief Packages Available (Originally published 3/26/20)
We hope this listing provides a reminder of some of the existing relief packages and the impetus to check back with us so that you stay informed of new benefits as they unfold. This listing is presented for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, accounting, tax or other professional advice.
State (Massachusetts) and Federal tax filing extension to July 15, 2020
Taxpayers may be eligible to apply for deferral of deferred tax liabilities
Enhanced unemployment benefits (CARES Act) may apply to self-employed (e.g., Uber/Lyft drivers, consultants, independent contractions)
Enhanced unemployment benefits for part-time and full-time workers impacted by shut downs or unable to work due to COVID-19 related reasons
High deductible health plans may cover testing and treatment for COVID-19 without jeopardizing eligibility for health savings plans
Retirement distributions of up to $100,000 may apply without 10% penalty for premature withdrawals if repaid over three (3) years with amortized taxation over the 3-year period, dated from the date of the distribution
Loans from retirement plans may qualify for increased borrowing from the previous ceiling of $50,000 and 50%, to $100,000 and 100% of vested benefits
Retirement loan paybacks may be extended by one year Federal educational loans may be in forbearance with no required automatic payments, no interest, and no late fees to September 30, 2020
Interest on continued payments may be counted as principal
Cash contributions to charities may constitute a deduction to your income, for tax filings, even if you do not itemize up to $300/individual
Check automobile insurers to see if there is a refund policy for reduced driving due to the COVID-19 situation
Check with mortgage lenders on any forbearance policies
Divorcing and Co-Parenting During a Pandemic (Originally Published 4/13/20)
Parenting Courses Online (Originally Published 4/19/20)
For divorcing parents with children under 18, due to COVID-19, Massachusetts Probate and Family Court is suspending the requirement for in-person attendance at Parent Education courses and permitting online participation via web video conferencing or visual attendance at approved course.
Mass.Gov Resources (Originally Published 4/28/20)
To learn more about Massachusetts’ reopening plan, Covid-19 response, and to access hotlines and helplines, click here.
Notary Public Information (Originally Published 4/28/20)
Legislation will allow notaries to use videoconferencing to perform notarial acts during the Covid-19 shutdown (e.g., court financial forms, etc.)
Divorcing in a Pandemic: What About the Family Business? (Originally Published 6/1/2020)
Couples entering mediation during Covid-19 bring with them many unknowns, but the objective of fairly and rationally dealing with the business buyout in irrational times is particularly challenging. On the positive side, mediation offers an opportunity for the kind of problem solving that rarely occurs when each party’s advocate is fighting for the best deal for his/her client. Here, in a confidential setting, the couple is encouraged and helped to think beyond the normal buy out deals. Both parties need to think of the best and worse case scenarios.
Divorce Hearing Announcement (Originally Published 6/5/2020)
Courts are offering the chance to line up for remote no-fault divorce hearings. Scheduling is at the discretion of the county. Remote court services are available, click here.
Accessing Cash When You Need It (Originally Published 6/17/20)
Contributions to a Roth IRA can be withdrawn at any time without paying an early withdrawal penalty (as is assessed on retirement plans before age 59-1/2) and without paying taxes. Remember this is applies only to your contributions.
For unemployed individuals, HAS moneys can be withdrawn for payment of health insurance premiums while receiving unemployment, including use in paying COBRA premiums. Remember moneys withdrawn from HAS(s), which are not used to pay qualified health expenses, before you attain age 65, will be taxed as ordinary income and be assessed a 20% penalty.
Tap into home equity: Equity Line of Credits (HELOC) are appealing given the low interest rates and the ability to make interest-only payments. The costs for opening the Line are small and timeframe for securing is usually short. There is often a penalty of early prepayment. You can also take out the Line and hold off on drawing funds at a later date or not at all. Reverse Mortgages for those who are at least 62 years of age. Reverse mortgages do not have to be repaid by the owner(s) if they continue to reside in the house. Your heirs will carry the debt, reducing the value of the house. You can borrow against the home’s equity as a line of credit or take a lump sum, or draw money overtime. Beware of the fine print and the costs involved.
Life Insurance Information
Given Covid-19 and the changing environment, some life insurance companies have stopped issuing long-term flat premium policies for 20 or 30 years. Some are limiting the insurance term to 15 years with more stringent underwriting policies. We can also expect higher premiums on new policies since low interest rates, more deaths and increased number of claims are affecting the bottom line of the insurance companies.