3 Things Notaries Should Avoid During COVID-19
Article by: David Thun
During COVID-19, Notaries need to take additional precautions to protect their health and the health of their signers. Here are 3 things Notaries should avoid when notarizing during the current health crisis:
1. Don’t Perform In-Person Notarizations If You Or Your Signer Are Feeling Sick
COVID-19 has hit our economy hard, and many businesses are struggling right now — especially Notaries. But it’s important you protect yourself and your customers by following appropriate health safety precautions. If you feel sick, don’t risk spreading illness to other people by meeting face-to-face with signers. If you learn that a signer is not feeling well, or you see warning signs of illness, it’s OK to decline the assignment if you believe the environment would put your health at risk.
If you have reason to believe you have been exposed to the coronavirus, even if you do not have symptoms, you should cancel any appointments you have scheduled until the period of self-isolation or quarantine is over. If you are performing a loan signing and need to stop an assignment due to health concerns, be sure to immediately notify the company or service that gave you the assignment.
To help Notaries and document signers, many states have issued emergency notarization rules temporarily allowing Notaries and signers to communicate and notarize documents remotely for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
2. Don’t Violate Local Health Safety Orders When Performing Notarizations
To ensure everyone’s health and well-being, it’s important that Notaries follow all local health safety orders when performing notarizations. For example, don’t meet a signer for a notarization at a local restaurant or coffee shop if local health officials prohibit customers from gathering at these places. Notaries should keep informed about any guidelines from city, state and local health officials regarding COVID-19, and only perform notarizations that comply with official health instructions.
3. Don’t Violate Basic Notarization Rules During COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented situation that has left many Notaries and signers struggling with unexpected challenges. However, remember that even during a crisis such as COVID-19, Notaries cannot violate proper procedures when identifying signers and performing notarizations, even if a signer claims extenuating circumstances due to the coronavirus.
If you are asked to perform an illegal act such as ignoring identification requirements for a signer, backdating a document or other improper notarial acts, you must still refuse — the COVID-19 emergency is not an acceptable excuse to break the law.
If your state permits you to perform remote notarizations, be sure to follow all your state’s rules for doing so. The one exception to this rule is if your state has a temporary authorization to perform videoconference notarizations and you are performing the notarial act in conformance with the temporary authorization.
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L3I Dimensions Inspection Productivity Software
Stuart - Level 3 Inspection LLC, the industry leading service provider of Computer Aided
Inspection (CAI) and dimensional layouts from high-accuracy 3D scanning has invested in developing a new software application to integrate and automate the dimensional inspection and reporting process. This software application is optimized to meet the quick turnaround times needed for precision manufactured parts inspection contracts they have won based on the results delivery speed.
“Our high-accuracy 3D scanning and proprietary processes of advanced dimensional inspection, geometric analysis, and conformance reporting have been integrated and the reports population fully automated, through this powerful tool that works with any measurement system to produce excellent CAI dimensional reports, with a
non-technical operator, the fastest way possible.” explained Bill Greene, CEO of Level 3 Inspection. “Each blueprint is computer-itemized, or ‘ballooned’, and the software produces the industry-compliant inspection report forms, including the aerospace industry standard AS9102 form, Howmet Form 3 and GE eCav, or anything else the client may desire.” he expanded.
“We wanted to eliminate the human manipulation of inspection data, and the errors such cutting-and-pasting can cause.” said Scott McAfee, L3I’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Engineer. “By integrating the process we remove the human-error source, and dramatically improve the reporting efficiency. “L3I Dimensions can work with data from any electronic measurement tool, including CMMs, e-gages, and optical metrology systems.” added McAfee, “We’re able to populate multi-sample dimensional inspection reports, a task that can normally take hours or a day, in mere minutes through this productivity software.”
The Level 3 Inspection LLC team has distinguished itself as true master practitioners in this rapidly growing advanced 3D metrology field. “These days everything must be brought to market faster, so our clients really appreciate the 30% time savings we provide in any precision manufacturing process optimization. Working with 10,000-times more information than any other measurement method, we can readily help our clients make better precision parts, at lower cost, much faster, and with greater confidence. We do this by cutting iterations and scrap, saving months and (often) millions.” stated Greene.
Level 3 Inspection LLC leads the advanced dimensional quality inspection industry with proprietary Computer Aided Inspection (CAI) processes and world-class technologies to help their clients make (or buy) better precision parts and products, much faster, with lower cost and greater confidence, by cutting iterations and scrap, saving months, and often, millions.
For more information, see www.Level3Inspection.com or call 772.405.7502
Coping with Market Volatility: Continuing to Invest May Help You Stay on Course
In the current market environment, the value of your holdings may be fluctuating widely — and it's natural to feel tentative about further investment. But regularly adding to an account that's designed for a long-term goal may cushion the emotional impact of market swings. If losses are offset even in part by new savings, the bottom-line number on your statement might not be quite so discouraging. And a basic principle of investing is that buying during a down market may help your portfolio grow when the market turns upward again.
If you are investing a specific amount regularly regardless of fluctuating price levels (as in a typical workplace retirement plan), you are practicing dollar-cost averaging. Using this approach, you may be getting a bargain by continuing to buy when prices are down. However, you should consider your financial and psychological ability to continue purchases through periods of fluctuating price levels or economic distress; dollar-cost averaging loses much of its benefit if you stop just when prices are reduced. And it can't guarantee a profit or protect against a loss.
If you can't bring yourself to invest during this period of uncertainty, try not to let the volatility derail your savings program completely. If necessary to help address your concerns, you could continue to save, but direct new savings into a cash-alternative investment until your comfort level rises. Though you might not be buying at a discount, you could be accumulating cash reserves that could be invested when you're ready. The key is not to let short-term anxiety make you forget your long-term plan. We're here to help and to answer any questions you may have.
All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful.
For more information contact Investment Planning Group at 772.233.4315
What Small Business Owners Should Know About the COVID-19 Stimulus Package
Article by: Brandon Woodward - Woodward, Kelley, Futon & Kaplan PA
Hey everybody, Sandy and I want you to stay safe, stay inside, and wash your hands...a lot.
Meanwhile, as small business owners grapple with the economic realities of nationwide stay-home orders and social distancing mandates, legislatures have been updating laws and developing new programs to keep the economy afloat. The latest and most groundbreaking is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package aimed at supporting individuals, businesses, and governments now and beyond this pandemic. The federal government has earmarked $377 million to help small businesses avoid failure and encourage them to retain their workforces.
What Small Business Owners Should Know About the COVID-19 Stimulus Package
As small business owners grapple with the economic realities of nationwide stay-home orders and social distancing mandates, legislatures have been updating laws and developing new programs to keep the economy afloat. The latest and most groundbreaking is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package aimed at supporting individuals, businesses, and governments now and beyond this pandemic. The federal government has earmarked $377 million to help small businesses avoid failure and encourage them to retain their workforces.
Here are the most important things for business owners to know about the CARES Act:
•Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants. Small business owners will be able to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans to maintain cash flow for payroll, utilities, rent, and other fixed debts. Additionally, small businesses may be eligible for up to $10,000 in grants, in the form of a loan advance, if they can show economic injury caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. An applicant may be eligible for the advance even if the applicant is denied the federal loan. Applicants who are approved for the loan advance will receive funds within three days of applying.
•Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In addition to funds available through the SBA as disaster loans, small businesses may be eligible to receive loans through the newly created Paycheck Protection Program. This loan program provides federally backed loans of up to $10 million for businesses with less than 500 employees as an incentive to encourage business owners to keep their employees on the payroll. The program broadly recognizes sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and private nonprofits as eligible businesses. These loans are due within two years at an interest rate of 1 percent but could possibly be forgiven. Moreover, loan payments are deferred for six months.
•Small Business Debt Relief Program. The federal government will defer loan payments for businesses that have SBA 7(a), 504, or microloans. Additionally, the SBA will pay the principal and interest on 7(a) loans issued to owners before September 27, 2020. For current 7(a) loans, the SBA will pay the principal and interest for six months.
•Employee Retention Tax Credit for Employers Subject to Closure or Experiencing Economic Hardship. Employers whose businesses have been partially or fully suspended as a direct result of the COVID-19 outbreak and whose gross receipts are below 50 percent of their prior amounts as of 2019 are eligible for tax credits for wages paid to employees during this time. The 50 percent fully refundable tax credit is for qualified wages of up to $10,000 per employee. This includes allocable qualified health plan expenses. Because there are additional tax credits related to the COVID-19 outbreak but outside the scope of the CARES Act, special attention must be paid to what and how wages are paid. Employers that receive an interruption loan under the Paycheck Protection Plan are not eligible for the tax credit.
•Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts Amendments. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 80 percent net operating loss rule has been lifted so that losses can now be carried back as far as five years. The excess business loss limitation for all noncorporate taxpayers was also removed. This loss limitation will still expire for tax years beginning after December 31, 2025; however, these provisions are effective from December 31, 2017, so tax returns filed with excess business loss limitations can be amended. There have also been amendments to retirement fund regulations resulting in the removal of the 10 percent withdrawal penalty and the increase of the loan limit on 401(k) loans. Up to $100,000 can be borrowed under CARES as compared to the former $50,000 limitation.
For more information contact them at:772.497.6544
Florida Supreme Court Expands Remote Notarization
Florida last year enacted a law authorizing remote online notarization, which went into effect on January 1 this year. Under the law, Notaries must complete a training course and register to perform online notarizations.
However, in response to the state of emergency declared by the Florida governor, the state Supreme Court issued an administrative order allowing any Florida Notary to administer oaths for court proceedings remotely using audio-video technology. Specifically:
Notaries in the State of Florida may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communication technology from a location within the State of Florida, provided they can positively identify the witness.
If a witness is not located within the State of Florida, a witness may consent to being put on oath via audio-video communication technology.
All rules of procedure, court orders, and opinions applicable to remote testimony, depositions, and other legal testimony — including the attestation of family law forms — that can be read to limit or prohibit the use of audio-video communications equipment to administer oaths remotely or to witness the attestation of family law forms, are hereby suspended, and will remain suspended until March 27, unless extended.
House of Hope Seeks Support in Preparing for Drastic Spike in Needy Households
Martin County- As local need is expected to drastically increase by more than 50% - worse than post-natural disaster numbers, House of Hope is asking the public to get involved. Monetary donations, volunteers for food distribution procedures, and non-perishable food items are needed immediately to meet the rapidly increasing community needs. Daily operations have shifted to take unprecedented measures in order to implement precautions needed to protect volunteers, staff, and clients from exposure to COVID-19 risks while continuing to serve thousands of residents in need.
The local workforce is heavily tied to the restaurant and hospitality industries whose workers are now losing their jobs with no assurances of re-employment by any particular date. Any resident whose livelihood depends on tourism, dining out, and recreational activities have already been drastically affected by the mandated closures and social distancing practices. Many of these workers have never received assistance from agencies such as House of Hope before and will need to learn where they may find help to combat food insecurity and possible eviction. Additionally, children home from school for the foreseeable future are no longer having free or reduced meals offered twice a day and many of these students will not have transportation nor the supervision to access daily feeding sites. Households arranging for alternative childcare options will experience new financial hardship and compromise for those still working. With more than 37,000 Martin County residents already living in food insecure households, 40% of households regularly cannot afford a $400 decrease in their monthly income. The need for assistance by this population is expected to rise by 50-75%.
House of Hope CEO, Rob Ranieri, shares, “How cohesive the community can be in responding to this situation between the local government, nonprofit agencies, funders, our health department, the school district and the general public will dictate how our most vulnerable populations will fare. We’ve got to work together to prevent dramatic slides into homelessness; donations of food and financial support will be key.”
Along with the anticipated increase in demand for assistance comes the challenge of other resources decreasing drastically for the nonprofit. 80% of House of Hope volunteers are in the high risk category for being susceptible to complications from COVID-19 and are no longer able to report for their normal shifts. Cancelled and postponed fundraisers, slow business in the agency’s thrift stores, and slower private donations have crippled the revenue available to House of Hope. With the highest urgency to procure food, hygiene items, pet food, diapers, and other supplies needed to offer crisis-support to thousands more Martin County residents now struggling, House of Hope has developed a comprehensive plan to utilize the public’s help in the most impactful ways possible.
For residents seeking to either give help or get help, House of Hope has been updating its website, social media channels, and newsletters to keep everyone informed as quickly as possible. With four service centers across Martin County now offering curbside prepackaged pantry distribution in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach, those newly in need are encouraged to bring their photo ID and proof of residency in Martin County in order to receive emergency food service. For those seeking financial assistance, residents should call (772) 286-4673. For updated information about services and resources available, the public is invited to visit hohmartin.org/COVID before heading to the nearest service center.
During This Time of Market Volatility, What Should we as Investors do?
Article by: Jason Reed - Wealth Manager Assistant - Investment Planning Group
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the markets swing wildly and the causes being discussed are the coronavirus, the oil feud between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and that have simply been overdue for a market correction. Of course, there are also the emotions of fear and greed at play which help drive some of the momentum in either direction. While all of these are true to some degree, there is another factor involved that some investors may not have considered and it’s something most of us use every day. The computer.
In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal titled, “Extreme volatility in shares isn’t due just to the pandemic”, author Gunjan Banerji explains how there are a growing number of companies that use computer algorithms to make trading decisions. Some of these algorithms use data inputs that specifically track market volatility. He goes on to say that although volatility is something that people have looked at for years, it is now an important factor in determining whether to buy or sell a particular stock.
So by virtue of the program written for their trading algorithm, some investors automatically sell out of a position if there are sharp enough swings in the price of its stock even if the company is good. This can create a snowball effect that triggers other algorithms which may help explain some of the extreme dips we’ve seen over the recent weeks.
Being a math guy, I can see the value in having computers there to aid us in the decision making process and even to make trades based on pre-determined data. That being said, it’s important to be aware that programs are written based on the quality of the data inputted and may be formulated off of past events that aren’t exact indicators of what’s taking place in today’s markets. Prior to the advent of computer aided trading, we might have still seen a pullback as news unfolded about the coronavirus or oil feud, but it may not have been so quick or so drastic without the trading being done by a machine.
If you have questions or concerns about what you should be doing as an investor during these volatile times, our advice is that you meet with your financial advisor and express your concerns. If you aren’t comfortable with what they are telling you, call us. We love the opportunity to earn new business and share our passion for helping people with their finances.
The Treasure Coast, Seniors vs Crime Office has relocated from the St. Lucie West Court House Annex to the St. Lucie County Tax Collector’s Office at 10264 SW. Village Parkway Drive in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The agency phone number is still 1-800-203-3099 with an added local number of 772-337-5759.
Seniors vs Crime (www.Seniorsvscrime.com) provides free assistance to seniors victimized by fraud, con games and deceptive business practices. Since our inception in 1989 we have recovered over $35 million dollars for senior citizens in Florida.
Martin Jacobson-Deputy Director
Everyone, no matter the size of your estate, is encouraged to draft an estate plan that includes Wills, trusts, and other essential estate-planning documents. An effective estate plan ensures that your beneficiaries get the inheritance you intend for them to receive, as well as naming a personal representative (called an executor) to carry out the wishes in accordance with your last Will and testament. If you have minor children, you should name guardians for them in the event you pass away while they are still minors.
Apart from all the pertinent legal matters your Will should attend to, you might feel compelled to include a surplus letter, called the explanatory letter, that explains the rationale for your dividing up your assets the manner in which you did. Such items can be particularly for your survivors but must be segregated from the actual text of your last Will and testament for legal reasons.
Your explanatory letter can do many more things than simply explaining why you divided your estate the way you did. Many people decide to address their wishes for any pets that were under their care, as well as ideas you have in mind for your children or grandchildren to use that precious heirloom that they might not know how to use (although, for example, record players have made somewhat of a comeback in recent years).
Also, you might choose the explanatory letter to be a platform for your views on your family’s dynamics. Sometimes, a stern dressing-down from beyond the grave is just what you feel your nephew or other wayward family member needs. Usually, though, an explanatory letter is a medium in which you can clarify your general wishes for your loved ones. Feel free to get sentimental.
What to Avoid in your Explanatory Letter
You should generally avoid including anything in the explanatory letter that belongs in your Will. A seasoned estate planning attorney will be able to discern the appropriate content for the separate and distinct documents. Additionally, you should not provide information that runs contrary to information in your official estate-planning documents. Confusion will reign if you do not leave your children any inheritance, but state in your explanatory letter that you hope they enjoy the lakehouse you left behind.
You should not feel bad about indulging yourself in your explanatory letter, but steer clear of any information that could contradict your last Will and testament. ProActive Legal Care can help you ensure your estate plan and all related documents are composed just the way you intend. Give us a call at (772) 221-3222 or get in touch with us here.