Dear Clients and Friends:
With all these changes in life going on, there are aggressive actions that you can you take to protect yourself, and your family, your friends, and your employees. Here are some ideas:
Review your leases for a Force Majeure clause (a provision in commercial contracts that excuses the renter from performing when certain situations arise beyond the renter’s control making performance impractical, inadvisable, unreasonably expensive, illegal or impossible). Please note that these clauses often require special notices or timing. Then, contact your landlord in writing, to notify him/her of this situation and your inability to perform. Landlords must work with their tenants in a reasonable way.
Contact the lender on your business or home loan to negotiate abeyance or delayed payments. Don’t wait for the government to mandate it. Many loan contracts receive such treatment due to a doctrine called Frustration of Purpose. In such a case, the purpose of the contract was frustrated by an event (pandemic) that would excuse its performance. For example, if your business was ordered to close as a non-essential business, you can argue that the reason for entering into the loan was to operate the business – which is no longer possible.
Review and determine how to handle your accounts receivable and accounts payable. Work to make your cash flow match up with revised commitments.
Contact the finance company carrying your car loan. Similar to the above, you may not be able to pay your car payments or even use the car. Therefore, you should be relieved of your payment obligations – even temporarily.
If you plan to reduce staff, be sure to catch up on the latest employment support plans being made available by the Federal, state, and local governments. Furlough versus termination versus reduction of work time have very different consequences.
Go through all of last month’s business and personal bills and see which can be reduced or eliminated. You will be surprised at how many things can be changed without dramatically impacting your employee benefits or work and personal lifestyle.
Make sure all of your assets are in the name of your family trust, both for you and for your employees. If something happens to you or your spouse/significant other, or an employee, the costs and time involved in settling the estate can be prohibitive. If all of your assets are in your trust, the transition is usually seamless. Also, make sure your health care directives are up to date with the right decision-makers named.
In the meantime, make sure that you are doing the best you can to be positive and aggressively pursuing solutions for yourself, your family, your friends, and your employees.