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.
Introducing PARK PLACE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
St. Lucie Habitat Kick’s off April “Home is the Key”
How does it feel to turn the key to a door of a place that you call home?
At St. Lucie Habitat, we believe that safe, decent and affordable shelter plays a critical role in helping families create lives filled with possibility and progress. Caught in cycles of unpredictable rent increases, overcrowded conditions, or lack of access to affordable housing, many families live with a constant burden of uncertainty, stress, and fear.
Families all across the Treasure Coast are paying too high a price to cover the cost of home. Rents and homeownership costs are skyrocketing, while wages are not keeping pace. Far too often, families struggle to make ends meet. Everywhere you look, the stability that home should bring remains out of each for far too many families.
On April 1st, we kick off our month-long, Home is the Key campaign, and on April 22nd, we’ll bring our community together to unlock futures and change lives so that even more families have access to decent housing.
Join us for lunch on April 22, 2020 at the Havert L. Fenn Center, 2000 Virginia Avenue, Fort Pierce, and learn how YOUR Habitat for Humanity is making an impact through affordable housing in St. Lucie County. Call Melissa Winstead at 772-464-1117, ext. 103 to reserve your seat.
Partner with us by spreading the message to our community that #SLHHomeIsTheKey.
Hobe Sound Bible College/Academy Host Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce Monthly Breakfast
Hobe Sound-The March Monthly Breakfast was Thursday, March 12th at 8:00 am at the Hobe Sound Bible College/Academy located at 11295 SE Gomez Avenue in Hobe Sound. The Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce Monthly Breakfast presenting sponsor for the breakfast was Steve & Evie Klaassen with Colorado Pawn & Jewelry. They are also a delight to hear from no matter where they go! They spoke about what a Pawn Store is and the many things the offer at the stores. They are also sponsoring the Special Olympics on April 25, 2020 at the Mets Stadium in Port St Lucie. Evie and Steve are very giving to the communities and are always ready and willingto help many non profits and charities.They have two locations one in Port St. Lucie and one in Stuart. For more information call them at:(772) 283-3660.
Guest speaker for the breakfast was Sheriff William Snyder with the Martin County Sheriff Department. He spoke about the Coronavirus and it's impact on the communities in Martin County. He tried to put prospective what you should be doing and what not to do. He tried to reassure the members who attended not to panic and go crazy but running out to the stores and hording supplies which you might not really need. Sheriff Snyder is running once more for Martin County Sheriff. We thank him for his positive words and upbeat talk with the members of the Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce.
The Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)non-profit organization. Their mission is to advance the general welfare and the prosperity of the Hobe Sound area so that its citizens and all areas of its business community shall prosper. All necessary means of promotion shall be provided and particular attention and emphasis shall be given to the economic, civic, commercial, cultural, industrial and educational interests of the area.
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Palm City Chamber & Out2News Host Lunch & Learn at Sandhill Cove Retirement
Palm City - On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the Inner Truth Project had a Lunch & Learn at Sandhill Cove Retirement Living in Palm City. They are located at 1500 SW. Capri Street in Palm City.
The event was sponsored by the Palm City Chamber of Commerce and Out2News/Out2martincounty.com. Sandhill Cove Retirement Living did not disappoint their guests. Their food was delicious! It's a beautiful venue to have an event.
Mindi Fetterman, founder and visionary Leader, spoke about what the Inner Truth Project. They offer outreach to the community and services to survivors of sexual violence. They are a not for profit organization committed to change the conversation and secrecy of sexual abuse, violence and rape.
For more information, please contact them at 772.200.4599.
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.