Last week, the Small Business Administration agreed to disclose the business names and locations, number of employees and loan amounts for all Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans in excess of $150,000. The Administration released the information this morning at 10 a.m. CT. As a result, the loan for your small business may become public as part of the disclosure.

Even though your bank may treat loan information as confidential, in this case, the disclosure of information is directly from the SBA as part of the Freedom of Information Act outlined in the PPP instructions. For more information, please refer to the U.S. Department of the Treasury website.

If you need assistance with obtaining or forgiveness of a PPP loan, please contact Rebecca Simpson Heimlich (513.797.2856).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attorney Susan Browning

In Part One of our Bankruptcy Basics series, we discussed Ohio Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, which can be read at this link. In Part Two of our series, we discuss Ohio Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

The previous blog provided information regarding chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, chapter 7 is not necessarily the right choice in every case. What do you do when you do not qualify for chapter 7 or you might lose an unprotected asset in chapter 7?

What is chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Chapter 13 is a payback of your debt over a period of time. The debtor submits a chapter 13 plan to pay creditors a percentage of their debt. A chapter 13 debtor must have regular income in order to make monthly payments to the trustee. The trustee then distributes the funds to the creditors as directed in the plan. There are three main reasons for filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy.

First, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is designed for debtors who make enough money to pay back a percentage of their debt. If your income exceeds the median income for your household size and your reasonable and necessary expenses do not offset that income, the court determines that the amount remaining, “disposable monthly income”, can be used to repay your creditors a percentage of your debt. This percentage can vary from 1% to 100% depending on each debtor’s circumstances. You must have a regular source of income to file chapter 13.

Second, Chapter 13 is a tool to discharge debt and keep assets you may otherwise lose in a chapter 7 because there is too much unprotected, “non-exempt”, value. In this case, over the length of your chapter 13 plan, you would pay back at least the value of what the unsecured creditors would have received in a chapter 7.

Third, there are some benefits a debtor can take advantage of in a chapter 13 that are not available in a chapter 7. If you are behind on your mortgage or car payment, you can avoid foreclosure or repossession by catching up the payments in the chapter 13. You may even be able to improve the terms of your car loan. In some cases, a debtor can get rid of a second mortgage if the value of the real estate is less than what is owed on the first mortgage. Chapter 13 debtors can catch up on debt payments that are not dischargeable such as taxes and domestic support obligations.

How long is a chapter 13?

Payments in a chapter 13 plan will last from three to five years depending on your income and/or the goal of your chapter 13 plan. If your income is below median income for your family size, you may be able to complete your Chapter 13 plan in 36 months. However, depending on what you are paying back in the Chapter 13, you may need up to 60 months to make the payments affordable. If your income is above median income for your household size, you will be required to make payments for 60 months.

 What if something happens and I cannot make my monthly payment?

Inevitably there will be changes to your financial situation during the three to five years you are paying into the chapter 13 plan. During that time period, you must notify your attorney of any changes to your financial circumstances. If there have been changes that make it difficult to make payments, your attorney will attempt to modify your chapter 13 plan. These modifications must be approved by the chapter 13 trustee, creditors, and the bankruptcy court.

What happens at the end of my Chapter 13 plan?

After you have made all your required payments into your Chapter 13 plan, the remainder of your unsecured dischargeable debts are discharged. Your car loans that were being paid through the plan will be paid off, and if you made all required payments, you should be current on your mortgage. Non-dischargeable debts, such as student loans, will remain after the bankruptcy case is over.

If you are struggling financially and would like more information about bankruptcy, please contact Susan Browning, 513.943.6650 at the Finney Law Firm for a FREE CONSULTATION.

Attorney Casey Jones

Back in February, I wrote on the Ohio Dog Bite Statute (R.C. 955.28) and debunked many of the myths surrounding liability for such claims. You can read that entry here.  Recently, our litigation team was able to achieve a settlement for our client, through a dog owner’s/homeowners’ insurance policy, of more than 12 times our client’s economic damages.*

Under Ohio law, dog owners/keepers/harborers are strictly liable when their dog injures another person (with very few, limited exceptions), even if it is the dog’s first incident – i.e., there is no “one free bite.” However, in instances where the dog has demonstrated aggressive tendencies previously, a victim may also be entitled to additional, punitive damages under common law. As responsible pet owners (and as the owner/lover of two extremely sweet, but large German Shepherds myself), it is our obligation to make sure that we understand and acknowledge our dogs’ temperaments and propensities, both for the safety of others and for our own economic interests.

The consequences of a dog attack can be severe and long-lasting for the victim, both from a physical and financial perspective, as well as mentally, and even for those victims who love dogs or may even have a dog of their own.

If you have been injured by a dog and would like to discuss your options, please feel free to contact me at (513) 943-5673 or casey@finneylawfirm.com, and I would be happy to discuss the matter with you at no charge. I am also offering remote consultations to during this time to honor COVID-19 health concerns.

 

*Case values are dependent upon the unique circumstances surrounding each case and do not necessarily predict the value of any other case.

I am especially proud of the drafting, mostly by Curt Hartman, in today’s Reply Brief on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction in our case to open Ohio Music Festivals: Bellwether Music Festival, LLC, et al, v. Dr. Amy Acton, et al. Even for non-attorneys, it is a great explanation of our constitutional rights to Free Speech and Equal Protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

Read the brief here and below.

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Attorney Rebecca Simpson Heimlich

New Regulations regarding changes to PPP in Flexibility Act

On Friday, June 5, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act was signed into law and significantly loosened many Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) rules to make it easier for small businesses to use the loans in a way that will be forgivable. Two of the major changes to the PPP in the Flexibility Act where:

  1. The loan forgiveness covered period (“Covered Period”) was extended from 8 weeks to 24 weeks, so borrowers have 24 weeks after receiving their funds to spend them
  2. The required payroll percentage was reduced from 75% to 60%, so borrowers can spend up to 40% on covered non-payroll expenses (mortgage interest, rent, utilities)

These and other changes in the PPP Flexibility Act raised many questions about the impact of the new rules on the calculation of PPP forgiveness.

In the last few days, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) has issued three new sets of regulations announcing revisions to prior PPP SBA regulations, to make the regulations consistent with the changes in the Flexibility Act.

Major Revision Impacting Self-employed and Independent Contractors

One of the revisions announced by the SBA raises the cap on how much self-employed and independent contractors can pay themselves out of their PPP funds.

Prior to the PPP Flexibility Act and the SBA revisions to the regulations, in general the amount that self-employed and independent contractors could pay themselves out of PPP funds was capped at the lessor of:

  • 8 weeks (or 8/52) of 2019 net profit, OR
  • $15,385 per individual in total across all businesses

According to a revision issued by SBA yesterday, that cap for the 24-week Covered Period has been raised to the lessor of:

  • 2.5 months (or 2.5/12) of 2019 net profit, OR
  • $20,833 per individual in total across all businesses

This higher cap applies to those who file a Schedule C or F and who use the PPP 24-week Covered Period (rather than the 8-week Covered Period). Although the Covered Period was increased from 8 to 24 weeks in the Flexibility Act, if your PPP loan was made before June 5, 2020, you may elect to have your Covered Period be the 8-week period beginning on the date of your PPP loan. If, however, you want to take advantage of the higher cap described above, you will need to use the 24-week Covered Period.

Conclusion

As part of our new Small Business Solutions Group, we will continue to stay on top of changes that may impact your PPP loan forgiveness and we will post updates on our blog. If you need assistance maximizing the forgiveness of your PPP loan, please contact Rebecca Simpson Heimlich at 513.797.2856.

As is reported here by Jennifer Baker of Fox 19, today Finney Law Firm filed suit against Dr. Amy Action, former director of the Ohio Department of Health, to allow planned summer music festivals to proceed.

Read the story here.

David Nethers of Fox 8 in Cleveland also has the story here.

Read the Complaint here.

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Last night, Empower U, the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors, the Ohio Real Estate Investors Association, and Finney Law Firm  co-hosted a webinar for more than 140 participants on the topic of PPP loan forgiveness.

As background, in April, we helped hundreds of Ohio businesses access PPP and EIDL loan funds (see this webinar for small businesses for and this webinar aimed at independent contractors).

But Part #2 of the PPP program is qualifying for and applying for loan forgiveness. If you don’t do Part #2 properly, you will have to re-pay the funds.

Rebecca Simpson Heimlich and Congressman Dr. Brad Wenstrup gave a detailed webinar (with a great and detailed PowerPoint) on the rules and approach to obtain forgiveness.  That webinar is posted by Empower U here.

If you have further questions about the PPP or EIDL loan programs, contact Rebecca Simpson Heimlich (513.797.2856).

 

 

 

 

Jane Schulte, Small Business Solutions Group

 

 

We all know that body language sometimes speaks more clearly about what we are thinking than our actual words.  We know that crossing our arms while speaking (or listening) communicates that we may be closed off; rolling our eyes makes a statement that we don’t agree with what is being said; looking away may mean we are distracted or bored; and, avoiding eye contact when speaking may mean that we are not being forthright.

But there is also email body language which is the message you are conveying with the written word that may tell the recipient things about you or what you are thinking that you do not intend.

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion. ~Dale Carnegie

Have you ever been the recipient of an email that leaves you scratching your head as to the intention behind the words? A lack of response which feels like you are being intentionally ignored? Or an email that was very short which felt as if the sender was being curt? We all have, and in defense of the sender, 99% of the time, they are well meaning and there are other reasons are behind the communication. Rushed for time, lack of proofreading or not responding because they do not have an answer (yet).

For Example

You receive an email from a client asking you a question to which you do not know the answer.  You forward the email to someone else in your office who does have the answer and assume they will get back to you within a reasonable time.  Meanwhile, the client waits for your response.  Your colleague gets busy and does not get back to you until a week later and you then answer your client.

What is the client left with?  The sense that you do not find them important or that you are too busy to handle their inquiry.  In other words, they picture you with your arms folded or visualize you as stressed out with no time to handle the details.  But that was not your intention at all!

How do we avoid this?  When someone emails you with a question you cannot answer, reply immediately that you will need some time to obtain the answer which tells them 1) you received their email; and 2) you are on it! Blind copy yourself and then drag and drop the email into your Outlook ™ tasks or calendar for the next day so you can follow up in a timely manner.

Diligent follow up and follow through will set you apart from the crowd and communicates excellence. ~John Maxwell

Draft like you are writing a letter

Draft as the author and proofread as the recipient. An email should be drafted like a letter in that it should have a greeting and closing (i.e. Good morning/afternoon with the person’s name and a thank you or have a good day at the end).  The body of your email should convey your message concisely so that no two minds can differ on what is being said or asked.  If you draft the email with the reader in mind, you can avoid multiple clarifying exchanges, saving time and of course, showing your attention to detail and professionalism.

The worst distance between two people is misunderstanding. ~Anonymous

Also, it is a good idea to:

  • Insert a meaningful subject line so the recipient knows the nature of your email
  • Proofread and do not rely on spell check
  • Attach the attachment before you draft the email, so you do not forget at the end
  • Insert the recipient’s email address at the end to avoid accidently sending the email before it is complete

At the end of the day, we are all human

Your email body language may leave someone wondering if you are a kind and caring person ready to assist them or an unfriendly and burdened individual that they are bothering.  Since we are all human beings dealing with other human beings, kindness always wins the day.  The more words you can use in your email that reflect kindness and clear information, will not only put you in a favorable light, but also make people feel welcome and that they made the right choice by doing business with you.

Take a few extra minutes to put warm touches on your email to brighten someone else’s day.  When you have clear, positive, and warm engagements in email, others will remember that and may even adopt some of your style so they can pass it on.

Use self-awareness, along with a critical inward lens, when drafting emails. Effective communication is at the heart of every good relationship both inside and outside of your business.

To learn more about effective communication and other Work Smart tools, contact Jane Schulte, 513.797.2855.

 

 

Attorney Christopher P. Finney

Finney Law Firm is proud to announce that Christopher P. Finney has recently become AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Martindale-Hubbell’s AV rating is the highest level of professional excellence at which a lawyer can be ranked in ability and ethics, and we are thrilled that Chris has achieved this honor.

The Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings System is based on the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell representatives conduct personal interviews with other members of the Bar to discuss lawyers under review. A consensus from fifteen judges and practicing attorneys is necessary to produce a rating. In addition, confidential questionnaires are sent to lawyers and judges in the same geographic location and/or area of practice as the lawyer being rated. Members of the Bar are instructed to assess their colleague’s legal ability and general ethical standards. Lawyers’ ratings serve as an objective indicator of a firm’s ethical standards and professional ability.

I am pleased to have reached this gold standard by this distinguished organization who has recognized lawyers for their high ethical standards and legal abilities for over a century. In an environmental where the market for legal services is highly competitive, the AV Preeminent Rating is a vital tool for prospective clients to evaluate a lawyer before engaging them for legal services.

~Chris Finney

The law firm itself received this rating back in March which provides the assurance that those needing legal services in the areas of Commercial and Residential Real Estate, Corporate Transactional, Business & Commercial Litigation, Labor & Employment Law, Small Business Solutions, Estate Planning & Administration, Public Interest Law, Bankruptcy, Personal Injury and Property Tax Valuation will receive a superior level of professional experience.

You can reach Chris Finney at 513.943.6655.