Updated: Aug 19
Updated as of August 19, 2020 with new MORTGAGE INFORMATION - Note that this information is constantly changing and evolving and I will update this article as I can. This is intended to provide clients with some guidance to relief or information regarding their concerns. Text that is in italic font may be outdated information, but still useful to some.
Coronavirus - NEW - my office is open by appointment, please call if you need assistance. Outdated Information: Pursuant to Executive Order 2020-21, Governor Whitmer has ordered that all residents in Michigan should "shelter in place". This means that most businesses will be closed and all non-essential workers should stay home. Essential workers are those that are necessary to sustain or protect life, such as healthcare workers. If you do not fall into this category, please stay home, wash your hands and stay safe. My office is still open to assist you via telephone and email.
Parenting Time and Child Support - Courts are now open by appointment and for limited hearings. Most hearings are occurring via Zoom. Outdated Information: Although family courts are closed, besides emergency services, the Michigan Supreme Court has indicated that it is expected that people will continue complying with any parenting time orders or support orders currently in place. Parents are encouraged to work together in the best interests of their children to minimize exposure and promote safety in the best interests of their children. Official guidelines are printed here.
Chapter 13 Plan Payments - At this time, while the Trustee offices are certainly sympathetic to any income loss occurring at this time, they do not have the power to "waive" Chapter 13 Plan payments. These plan payments may be covering mortgages and car payments and in order to pay these, your payments need to keep coming in as scheduled. If you have automatic payments scheduled to come out of a bank account, contact your attorney to stop a direct withdrawal if you do not have the funds available. Both Trustees are accepting payments via www.tfsbillpay.com, any payment is better than no payment, so try to keep as current as possible. If you are out of work and had a payroll order in place, please make payments online. See here for payment options.
Stimulus Checks - Most qualifying adults have received their stimulus checks, a new round of stimulus funds is pending. As of 4/15/20, the government has announced that adults may receive checks up to $1200 depending on their household income starting in April 2020. To receive direct deposit of this money, you will have to have filed your tax returns with your direct deposit information. If the IRS does not have this information, you will receive a paper check in the mail. Mailed checks may take several weeks to receive. As of right now, at least one Chapter 13 Trustee's office has indicated they will NOT be seeking this money for cases.
Unemployment in Michigan - The Governor has issued Executive Order 2020-10 to address the need of employees in the state that are losing income. From now until at least April 14, 2020, the following now constitute "leaving work involuntarily for medical reasons" and a "layoff" for unemployment benefits:
Self-isolation or quarantine due to elevated risk from COVID-19 due to being immuno-compromised, displaying symptoms, having contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed diagnosis or the need to care for someone with COVID-19
Family care responsibility as a result of a government directive (this includes caring for children due to a school closing)
The time to file for unemployment has been extended to within 28 days of the last day worked
Additionally, self-employed individuals may be able to claim unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. Please follow up with the Unemployment website in Michigan for more information coming out on this potential benefit.
Tax Returns - The tax filing deadline has been moved from April 15 to July 15.
Mortgage Payments - I've received several inquiries from clients about making mortgage payments. New information is at the following link regarding current options available and some pitfalls of these options. Corona Virus / Covid-19 and your mortgage.
Credit Cards - Many credit card companies are also indicating they may be willing to assist debtors with credit card payments, however, beware that if they waive payments it is likely interest will continue accruing, so if you can make these payments, you should.
Student Loans - The stimulus package is anticipated to provide student loan borrowers a reprieve from payments until at least October and any interest that would have accrued during that period would be waived. I am concerned about student loan servicing companies' ability to enact this change swiftly or correctly. If you have a private student loan, you may want to consider refinancing to get a lower interest rate. While the economy is currently volatile, rates on refinanced loans should drop to about 2.5% fixed and 1.25% variable. “The only one who wins by you not refinancing a private loan that costs too much is the lender who owns your debt,” says Travis Hornsby, founder of Student Loan Planner. Those with federal student loans, however, should be wary in thinking about refinancing as doing so may result in voiding a great many benefits.
Court Closures - Most Courts are open by appointment. Most hearings are occuring via telephone or zoom. As of right now, many courts are closed until May 2020. Some hearings are happening over the phone. Contact your attorney if you have an upcoming hearing.
Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr handles cases in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and all surrounding counties, call today for a consultation. 269-381-4471
Note that none of the above is intended as legal, medical or tax advice and is informational only.