Articles Posted by Insights

Many across the State are celebrating Governor Murphy’s Executive Order (EO) No. 242 lifting the mask and social distancing mandates for businesses and workplaces put in place by EO 192 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Specifically, EO 242 states that individuals in “indoor public spaces” are no longer required to comply with these mandates regardless of their vaccination status.  Unvaccinated individuals “should” continue to wear mask in indoor public spaces but are not required to do so.   EO 242 includes limited exceptions for childcare centers, youth summer camps, schools , health facilities and other facilities.

However, for those business that do not qualify as “indoor public places”  the mask and social distancing mandates imposed by EO 192 remain in effect.   EO 242 expressly states that “indoor public spaces” do not include indoor workplaces that do not open their indoor spaces to the public for the purpose of selling goods, attending activities, or providing services.  According to EO 242, individuals in these indoor workplaces that are not open to the general public must continue to wear face coverings, subject only to the previously recognized exceptions, i.e., when the employee is at distances workstations or offices, and continue six feet social distancing to the maximum extent possible.

While there has been significant media coverage about the Governor’s lifting of restrictions, very few outlets have reported on the continuing requirement to observe COVID-19 protocols in private workplaces.   Intuitively, these private places may be safer than those workplaces that invite members of the general public into their premises, but until further relief comes from the Governor’s Office, these requirements remain in effect.

Elizabeth Candido Petite recently spoke with the New York Times for an article The Unequal Inheritance: It Can Work, or It Can ‘Destroy Relationships’.  In the article Elizabeth shares her insights on estate planning strategies that can be used when someone decides to bequeath different amounts to their heirs.  The strategies she shares come from her experience helping estate planning clients navigate the intricacies of early inheritance, gifting for caregiving children and second marriage families.

Births, deaths, marriages, and divorces reshape the definition of family for individuals on a constant basis. It’s no wonder, then, that family law and estate planning often go hand in hand. Estate planners and divorce attorneys alike are often presented with “what if” questions that span both areas of law. Here, a few common questions are explored which can help guide people faced with these life transitions as they make decisions to protect their spouses, children, and assets.

Can I change my Will while I’m getting divorced? Should I?

Although the last thing that many people want to do once the divorce action has begun is engage another attorney, it is actually a good idea to revisit your estate plan at this time. Public policy prohibits disinheriting your spouse, so a spouse who is not named in the other’s Will could file a claim for the “spousal elective share” to receive a portion of the deceased spouse’s estate. The filing of a divorce complaint does not prevent a soon-to-be former spouse from inheriting an equitable share of marital assets. The New Jersey Supreme Court has analyzed what should happen in this situation and applied a remedy which does not allow the surviving spouse a windfall, but at the same time recognizes that at the time of the death, the parties were in fact still married.[1]

On March 25, 2021, Senators Sanders and Whitehouse introduced a bill titled “For the 99.5% Act.” If enacted, the following are among some of the significant provisions:

  • Federal estate tax exemption reduced from $11.7 million to $3.5 million
  • Gift tax exemption reduced from $11.7 million to $1 million

On  May 13, 2021 the CDC unexpectedly recommended that, with limited exceptions,  fully vaccinated individuals can resume all indoor and outdoor activities without wearing masks or social distancing, except where required by law or workplace guidance.  Individuals are deemed fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their final dose of the vaccine.

Under the new guidance, vaccinated individuals can resume pre-pandemic activities even if other individuals in the workplace are not fully vaccinated.  In addition, vaccinated individuals are no longer required to undergo COVID-testing or quarantine after travel within the United States.

Not so fast: The collective cheers heard in offices last Thursday afternoon following the CDC’s announcement were short-lived for some jurisdictions that were following the CDC guidance.   New York, Illinois and Massachusetts are among the states that have announced that they have or will imminently lift their states’ mask and social distancing mandates for vaccinated individuals.   California has announced that it will keep the mandates in place for indoor settings outside the home until June 15th.  New Jersey’s Governor Murphy is taking a more cautious approach, stating that all workplace requirements of EO 192 (mandatory masks, social distancing, daily health screenings, sanitation of work areas) remain in effect and he has not announced any timeline for the lifting of restrictions.

It is not uncommon in these difficult times for one ex-spouse to seek a modification of the divorce decree.  COVID has caused changes in everyone’s life. A party may have lost income or even their job and seek to decrease alimony and child support. Or concerns over the safety of unvaccinated children or the failure of an ex-spouse to receive a vaccination may lead a party to seek to modify visitation.

Litigation over these issues was already time consuming before the pandemic caused a backlog of matters before the courts.  You and your family may be better served by bringing your issues to mediation with a retired judge. During my 27 years on the bench I served 6 years as the Family Presiding Judge where I tried hundreds of cases and assisted in the settlement of many more. These cases involved alimony, child support, equitable distribution and custody. I also ruled on hundreds of post judgment applications. I believe my experience can be beneficial to ex-spouses who wish to reach a mutual resolution of their family law issues in a timely manner.

Nicole Kobis, Partner in Lindabury’s Divorce & Family Law group, recently contributed an article to Above The Law on the challenges of being a sympathetic divorce lawyer.

The task of the compassionate divorce lawyer is not easy: it requires balancing sympathy and acknowledgment of the emotional turmoil occurring in my clients’ lives while at the same time ensuring that they understand the boundaries of the law. I work even harder now to make sure that when a client leaves my office, they know that divorce is not the end of their lives. Instead, I help them finish one chapter and immediately turn the page to begin a new chapter which though different, could be even better than the one before.

You can read Nicole’s entire article here.

On Feb. 22, 2021 Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, which established the framework for a legal, adult-use cannabis industry in New Jersey. By some estimates, recreational cannabis may grow to be a billion-dollar industry in the state over the next few years. Many have worried that much of this growing economic pie may be grabbed by large, well-capitalized cannabis companies from out of state that have already established themselves in those other markets where recreational cannabis was legalized earlier than New Jersey.

Enter the microbusiness license.

Per New Jersey’s cannabis licensing laws, a microbusiness is a cannabis business with strong established connections with New Jersey that is subject to certain size and operational limitations. A significant number of licenses to operate in the cannabis industry will be earmarked solely for such microbusinesses. As such, microbusinesses will only need to compete against one another during the application process, rather than needing to compete directly with larger, more established businesses. This potentially gives entrepreneurial start-up companies seeking to delve into the cannabis industry a path forward without getting pushed aside by multi-state operators (MSOs) in the frenzy once New Jersey begins accepting applications.

After much anticipation, New Jersey’s Governor Murphy signed the “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act” into law on February 22, 2021. While this law made adult use recreational cannabis legal, the extensive law, together with a few “clean up bills,” did a whole lot more than legalization. In hundreds of pages, this law created the broad framework for the development and regulation of the entire cannabis industry including licensing, manufacture, distribution, taxation, enforcement, as well as criminal and social justice reforms for the possession and use of cannabis. It is therefore not surprising that some issues of particular importance to employers, such as drug testing and carve-outs for certain industries, are still hazy.

Importantly, while some provisions of the law became effective immediately, the provisions governing employment and those “activities associated with the personal use of cannabis,” are not operative until the newly appointed five member Cannabis Regulatory Commission adopts initial rules and regulations. These regulations, which will interpret and instruct how the law will be implemented, are required sometime within 180 days of the law’s adoption, or by mid-August 2021.

How does recreational marijuana impact Zero Tolerance Marijuana Policies?

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