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Law Firm Open During COVID-19 Closures

Posted by Darryl V. Pratt | Apr 05, 2020 | 0 Comments

NOTICE CONCERNING CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – Office Open

Pratt Law Group, PLLC, Notice Concerning COVID-19.

WE ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS! We are open and ready to help with any of your legal needs.

With the exception of certain court hearings and group meetings, it is business as usual for the firm.  Please know that we are taking every precaution to protect our clients, our prospective clients, and our employees.

We have made the decision to temporarily work from home rather than at our physical offices until the threat of the virus has passed.  However, as our clients and colleagues know, we have been fully operational for remote access by our clients, attorneys, and staff members for years.  We never imagined that we would face a situation of this magnitude, but we are very fortunate that we have been set up to handle your case remotely for so long because we have developed a very effective system for the practice of law in a changing world.  The only difference is that, for right now, your entire team is working from remote locations.  This decision was made to protect you and our staff, and to do our part to help flatten the curve and prevent community spread. And even though we're working from home, we are operating at full capacity and we're here to help you.  So, until further notice, we have taken the precautionary measures to limit the further spread in our community and to safeguard the health of our clients & team members by temporarily working from home and not the office location which will eliminate walk-ins/ in-person meetings, until further notice.

WE ARE AVAILABLE TO HELP YOU:

  • We're open and ready to help you in any way possible.

TO OUR CURRENT CLIENTS:

  • We are actively working for you, and we are here to answer questions and help you as needed, so please don't hesitate to call!
  • Phone Calls: We are still taking calls during normal business hours (8:30am – 5:30pm, M-F).
  • Secure Client Portal: We are still available through your client portal.

WE ARE ACCEPTING NEW CLIENTS AND REFERRALS:

  • We are actively working for you, and we are here to answer questions and help you as needed, so please don't hesitate to call!
  • Your referrals are one of the greatest compliments our firm and our staff can receive!
  • If you are a prospective client, we can schedule a time for you to meet with an attorney via telephone or Zoom videoconference.
  • You can call our regular office number at (972) 712-1515 or you can reach out through our secure website https://TexasEstates.com/contact/.

WE ARE AVAILABLE FOR ZOOM MEETINGS AND PHONE CALLS:

  • We are available during regular business hours for Zoom meetings and phone calls at (972) 712-1515.
  • If you have an in-person meeting scheduled, you'll receive a call or email from Amy or Bailey to explain the transition to a phone meeting or virtual meeting via Zoom Meeting at your convenience.  Please kindly await their instructions, so that they're not bombarded all at once with calls; they're both extremely efficient so don't be concerned that you'll be overlooked.

OUR OFFICE:

  • We are working our normal business hours (8:30 am – 5:30 pm, Monday thru Friday), but from the safety of their homes, so please feel free to give us a call at (972) 712-1515 or send an email as you would normally do;
  • We have implemented a closed-door policy, so we will not be accepting any walk-ins or hosting in-person meetings for the time being;

ESTATE PLANNING CLIENTS:

We know that many of our clients urgently need our services and will feel a sense of relief at knowing their Estate Planning is complete. We also recognize that for many of our clients who are self-isolating or home from work, this may present the perfect opportunity to get started on their Estate Planning.                                                                                                                             

Our challenge, therefore, is to continue to meet the needs of both client groups while limiting in-person contact and following social distancing and public health recommendations. Thankfully much of our work can be done using email, teleconferences, and video conferences. The one exception to this is: document signings typically require two (2) witnesses and a Notary Public. To limit the possibility of transmittal while still meeting the needs of our clients, we are immediately enacting the following precautions to remain in effect until further notice:

  • We have converted all in-office/in-person meetings to teleconferences or video conferences. 
  • We will not be scheduling in-person meetings for document signings, until further notice. 
  • We will contact you to either: (1) schedule an in-person signing meeting at your home to sign your Estate Planning documents with a mobile Notary Public service and assisting in coordinating two (2) disinterested witnesses, or (2) schedule an in-office meeting to sign your Estate Planning documents at a future date.  

We believe that these reasonable steps are the best way to protect our clients, our staff, their families, and the community at large. However, we need your help! We encourage all clients with active symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath to immediately consult with their healthcare provider and to cancel your appointment or let us know if you have recently been in our office. 

DROPPING OFF DOCUMENTS:

  • If you need to drop off any documents, we strongly prefer that you send these over via our Secure Client Portal called PLG Connect at: https://prattlawportal.microsoftcrmportals.com/ or via email or fax us at (972) 712-2832. 
  • If you're unable to send via the portal, or email or fax, please feel free to drop them off in our office “in-box”, located outside our office doors starting 3/30, in the following manner:
    • Please wash your hands and don't touch your face prior to handling the documents;
    • Make sure you have your documents sealed in an envelope clearly marked with the attorney's name & matter reference, as applicable;
    • Leave your document(s) OUTSIDE the Suite 505 office door;
    • Please notify us via phone (972-712-1515) or email Elizabeth at ([email protected]) that you've dropped them off; and
    • Make sure that these are delivered while the building is open between 8:30 am – 5:30 pm only.

In order to do our part to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, and in concert with the recommendations by our public health agencies and officials, some members of our firm will be working remotely during the next several weeks. However, be assured that any documents delivered to our office will be taken inside as soon as possible – as always, your confidentiality is extremely important to us.

COURT HEARINGS AND UPDATES:

For any of our current Bankruptcy clients, the Federal Bankruptcy Courts have issued orders continuing all Section 341 Creditor Meetings until a later date to be determined. 

  • US Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of Texas:
    • Effective immediately, all in-person Chapters 7 and 13, Section 341 Creditor Meetings scheduled through April 10, 2020, are hereby continued until a later date to be determined.
    • Absent special circumstances, Section 341 Creditor Meetings may not proceed during this period except through telephonic or other alternative means not requiring personal appearance by debtors. Appropriate notice will be provided to parties in accordance with bankruptcy laws and rules.
    • Meetings already noticed as telephonic meetings may proceed as scheduled.

If your matter is currently set for a hearing, the hearing is likely continued, until a future date to be determined by the Court.

For any of our current Probate and Guardianship clients, the Texas Supreme Court has issued orders setting forth that all “non-essential” hearings will be held via telephone or videoconference. 

  • Please refer to the specific Court's website to find the Court Order referenced.                                                                                                         
    • The Order sets forth which matters are considered “essential” – please note that as of 3/30/2020, the firm currently has a number of cases in which we are representing a client in an “essential matter”. 
    • If your case is currently set for trial, or if there are other deadlines that are upcoming, the Court will likely continue and/or extend the dates for trial or response.
    • If your matter is currently set for a hearing, the hearing may go forward, but no in-person attendance is permitted.                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Matters that are not currently pending before any of the Courts referenced above will continue in the normal course as the situation permits.
  • As of March 16, 2020, all Texas State Courts are not holding in-person hearings for non-essential proceedings.  Other courts are scheduling all hearings except jury trials. Currently, some courts are scheduling (and rescheduling) hearings for late April and into May and some won't even start scheduling until June.
  • There are other options available depending on the type of case you have and the courts are working to develop solutions.  We continue to explore all options and will keep you informed about alternatives that are available to you.
  • Probate and Guardianship Hearings are being held only for essential matters, such as: Mental Health; Temporary Restraining Orders; Temporary Injunctions; and Chapter 48 Removal hearings; and also include Temporary Guardianships and Temporary Probate Administrations.

For the most up-to-date information, visit the respective Courts' website, and you can also sign up for the State Bar's Daily News Briefing at texasbar.com/dailynews to receive the latest legal news updates in your inbox every weekday.

COURT DEADLINES:

Certain court deadlines will, of necessity, be extended due to very limited hearing availability and other things.  Do not expect discovery deadlines and other things that can be handled during this time to be extended.  Unless the Texas Supreme Court changes a deadline, or a local court does so, we have to assume that all deadlines remain in place.

FILINGS AND RECORDINGS:

  • For Court/Clerk-related and Secretary of State Filings and Recordings – these will continue to be electronically filed, as usual, so no changes are needed;
  • We currently have access to the ability to record documents with most of the Texas County Clerks remotely and electronically for any Deeds or other instruments that need recording.
  • This means that your pleadings will continue to be filed in the same manner as before the pandemic.

INCOME TAX FILING DEADLINE:

The Internal Revenue Service announced on March 21, that it would move the U.S. Income tax filing deadline for all taxpayers and businesses from April 15th to July 15, 2020.

BUSINESS FILINGS:

The newly enacted CARES Act provides benefits to help combat the economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic, including tax refunds and credits for individuals, and various infusions of capital for businesses to retain their employees.

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is designed to help small businesses with less than 500 employees with forgivable loans.
  • Employment Retention Credit of $5,000 per employee.
  • Payroll Tax Deferral for Employer Portion of Social Security Taxes.
  • Temporary Reinstatement of Net Operating Losses (NOLs) Carryback.
  • Suspension of Excess Business Loss Rule.
  • Qualified Improvement Property (QIP) Technical Correction.

We encourage you to support small businesses during this trying time.  Be smart & practical – stay away from crowds, implement social distancing, wash your hands, don't touch your face…we're all in this together, so please stay healthy and sane…we will get through this.

We are confident that we will still be able to service all our clients through this period of uncertainty and simply ask that you stay in contact with us and communicate any special concerns that you may have during this time.

Take Care, Stay Safe and May God Bless You and Your Families,

  • Darryl V. Pratt & the Pratt Law Group Team

Tel: 972-712-1515  Fax: 972-712-2832
2591 Dallas Parkway, Ste. 505, Frisco, Texas 75034

TexasEstates.com

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-1) HELPFUL LINKS:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): cdc.gov/coronvisus/

Texas Health and Human Services: (what to do if you are sick, testing information, symptoms and prevention tips):  https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/

               HOTLINE:  Dial 2-11, Option 6, 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.  7 days a week

Texas Court Information (updates on Texas courts): Texas Judicial Branch Court Procedures Novel Corona virus – COVID -19

Texas Governor (statewide orders and updates from Governor Abbott): https://gov.texas.gov/coronavirus

Collin County: https://www.collincountytx.gov/healthcare_services/Pages/news.aspx

Dallas County: https://www.dallascounty.org/covid-19/

Denton County: https://dentontexas.gov/

Frisco: https://www.friscotexas.gov/1621/Coronavirus-Information

McKinney: https://www.mckinneytexas.org/2256/Coronavirus-COVID-19

Fort Worth: http://fortworthtexas.gov/COVID-19/

Tarrant County: https://www.tarrantcounty.com/content/main/en/county/tarrant-county-covid-19-information.html

Internal Revenue Service: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus

Small Business Administration: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

US Bankruptcy Court – Eastern District of Texas:  https://www.txeb.uscourts.gov/news/section-341-meeting-continuances

US Bankruptcy Court – Northern District of Texas: https://www.txnb.uscourts.gov/news/section-341-meeting-continuances

About the Author

Darryl V. Pratt

With almost twenty-five (25) of experience as a dual-licensed Attorney and Certified Public Accountant, Darryl V. Pratt has practiced law in all areas of corporate and business law, non-profit law, estate planning, probate, guardianship, asset protection planning, bankruptcy (Chapters 7, 13 and 11), real estate, and taxation.

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2591 Dallas Parkway
Suite 505

Frisco, TX 75034
866-511-7722
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DISCLAIMER Pratt Law Group, PLLC (PLG) has prepared the material on this web site, for informational purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice. Further, the material on this site does not create, and receipt does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. The information here is not intended to substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. No person should act or rely on any information in this site without seeking the advice of an attorney. Members of the law firm of PLG are licensed to practice in various courts and jurisdictions; attorneys are specifically licensed to practice in state courts that are enumerated on their individual attorney profiles. We also have affiliations in particular cases with attorneys licensed in additional states. PLG does not offer any guarantee of case results. Although we are extremely proud of our excellent track record, past success does not guarantee success in any new or future case or client matter. This web site is considered advertising by the State Bar of Texas under the applicable law and ethical rules. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. Only those attorneys who state they are Board Certified in their profiles on this website are Board Certified. All other attorneys are not Board Certified. Darryl V. Pratt is the attorney responsible for this site. The principal office of PLG is 2591 Dallas Parkway, Suite 505, Frisco, Texas 75034. Please note that the transmission of an e-mail inquiry itself does not create an attorney-client relationship. PLG cannot serve as your counsel in any matter unless you and our firm expressly agree in writing that we serve as your attorney. You should also be aware that the Statute of Limitations (the deadline imposed by law within which you may bring a lawsuit) may have expired or may severely limit the time remaining for you to file any potential claims you may have. Time is of the essence. If you believe you have a possible legal case, it is important that you seek out legal advice as soon as possible.

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