COVID-19 changes outlined on a stack of newspaper - Hammerle Finley Law Firm

You have to give reporters due credit. News coverage on the recently enacted pandemic-related laws and actions by government officials – elected and appointed – has been phenomenal. The big stuff made headlines in every news outlet.

Not so well publicized was the bunch of small stuff that happened quietly behind the scenes. Since these changes were not quite so bombastic, you may not have heard about them. Here, then, is a run-down of some of that small stuff.

What have States done throughout COVID-19 for Legal Documents?

A lot of states have lifted restrictions on in-person notarization of legal documents. These have occurred through various mechanisms: governors’ orders, secretary of states’ rules and legislation from the few states to have legislators in session. Are they all legal? It is doubtful. For those that are legal, the take-away is that you can sign certain documents before a remote notary. The National Association of Elder Law Attorneys has published a link to a list of recent actions by state for the public. A bit of warning – if you are not a gambler then, if at all possible, sign in front of a notary in person.

Nice job, people. You did not panic last quarter when the markets crashed. In the first three months of 2020, only 5.6 percent of those enrolled in a 401(k) plan changed their portfolio allocations.

The American Bar Association is selling an app called Mind Your Loved Ones that allows you to store critical medical information and advance care directives on a smartphone. For those who ask why a bar association is charging the public for a product that it should provide for free as a public service, that is an excellent question.

How has COVID-19 affected Medicare?

Covid-19 has sparked a number of significant changes to Medicare Parts A, B, C and D. Many of the changes are supposedly temporary, but it would not be surprising if they morphed into permanent status. The Center for Medicare Advocacy has compiled a  Guide. If you have Medicare, this a must-read.

The CDC has produced a wealth of information, including 8 new videos, related to Covid-19. The Administration for Community Living put together in a resource page:

The country’s largest health-care network is the Department of Veterans Affairs. It provides care for more than 9 million veterans and has 4,000 employees. The VA recently admitted that is being forced to ration protective gear.

How has COVID-19 affected Estate Planning?

On the estate planning front, an appellate court recently held that a revocable trust does not lose consumer disclosure protections provided by the Truth- in- Lending Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, Regulation Z or the Fair Debt Collection Act. Basically, the revocable trust was treated as a “natural person” for trust transactions made for a consumer purpose. The case, out of California, is Gilliam v. Levine.

And that should be enough small stuff to get you started.

Hammerle Finley Law Firm Is Here To Help Through COVID-19

Virginia Hammerle is an attorney and president of Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Sign-up for her newsletter at, and read more columns at Legal Talk Texas.

This column is not intended to be legal advice