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Consumer Updates amid the COVID-19 Crisis

One week ago we received an Order from the Bankruptcy Court allowing electronic signatures. We used to have to meet in person and get wet ink signatures on all petitions filed with the Court. As soon as the Order was released we immediately put systems into place to allow clients to file bankruptcy right from the comfort of their own home as they follow social distancing guidelines.

We meet with clients telephonicall or texty or virtually using Zoom, Skype or FaceTime, depending on the clients’ preferences.

Along similar lines, the Governor of the State of Connecticut issued another Executive Order allowing remote notarizations. This is great news for those clients in need of Estate Planning documents, such as Wills, Living Wills and Powers of Attorney. To start the process and request an Estate Planning Questionnaire, please click HERE.

With regard to court operations around the State of Connecticut, please note that some courts have closed and moved their business to centralized locations in each Judicial District. Also, courts are operating on limited hours and Support Enforcement Services has been closed until further notice. For more information regarding the state court system, please visit the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Website.

Foreclosures and Evictions/Ejectments are still happening but there are some limitations and extensions of dates and deadline, Law Days and Sale Dates. This is by court order or lender-directed. If you have specific questions, please ask me.

Lastly, the CARES Act was passed and signed into law. It brought with it some major changes to the Bankruptcy Code and Unemployment Benefits.

As for Bankruptcy, (1) it excludes stimulus checks and other payments from being considered as income for purposes of the Chapter 7 Means Test and for determining in Chapter 13 cases the amount to pay unsecured creditors, (2) it also prevents current Chapter 13 cases from failing by permitting debtors to extend the term of their plans in order to have additional time to pay critical debts and (3) it permits a debtor who has experienced a material financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 pandemic to seek a modification of the Chapter 13 plan that will extend the period of time for payments on claims for up to seven years after the date the first payment was due after plan confirmation. (Source: NCLC)

As for Unemployment, reports are coming in that there is unprecedented allowances for self-employed individuals to collect unemployment benefits. We are awaiting verified information on this from the State of Connecticut Department of Labor and will keep you updated as it develops.

Please do everything you can to stay safe and stay at home as much as possible.

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