Injunction Halts Implementation of New Overtime Rules

courthouse(h/t to my colleague, Timothy M. McConville, Esq.)

Earlier this year, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new regulations to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would require changes to how employers classified certain employees unless compensation levels were changed.  This week a Federal Court issued an injunction blocking the implementation of these new regulations that were set to take effect on December 1st.  The injunction was issued nationwide, and therefore, prohibits the DOL from enforcing those regulations anywhere until a final resolution is reached.  The Court’s reasoning behind the injunction was that the DOL exceeded its authority in issuing these regulations.  With this injunction, many employers who had prepared to make changes as of December 1st are now in a holding pattern until the Court finally rules.  Of course, many other forces, such as a change in the administration, may also impact the implementation of these regulations.  Thus, if you are an employer who is subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, you should reach out to your professional advisor to determine the impact this ruling has on your business.  #overtimerule #businessplanning #DOLenjoined #FLSA @bgnthebgn

Injunction Granted Against CMS’ Rule Prohibiting Arbitration Clauses and D.C. Death with Dignity Act Passes

law-booksAn update regarding the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) new rule banning the use of binding pre-dispute arbitration agreement by nursing homes that accept Medicare and Medicaid patients.  As was expected, the nursing home industry has fought back and filed suit in the Northern District of Mississippi.  In a 40 page Order, a Federal District Court Judge has granted the preliminary injunction requested by the American Health Care Association and several nursing homes.  In the opinion, the Judge recognized the position many families find themselves in cases of abuse and neglect when dealing with the nursing home, but indicated that CMS may have overstepped its authority in issuing the rule, and therefore, enjoined CMS from enforcing the rule until the courts could resolve the issue or Congress passed legislation.  Therefore, nursing homes will continue to be able to include such provisions in their contracts.  Furthermore, with the election in the rear view mirror, only time will tell what will become of this rule.   #elderlaw #elderabuse #nursinghome #arbitrationbanned

Also, a brief update that the Death with Dignity Act in the District of Columbia has cleared the last hurdle before going to Mayor Muriel Bowser.  The vote of the D.C. Council was again 11-2 and was passed with an amendment requiring some level of annual reporting by the Department of Health.  The Act is expected to become law, but Congress still has oversight and the Act may still be overturned.  However, at this juncture D.C. joins Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California and Colorado in passing such legislation.  As has been expressed before, the passage of this Act is a reminder to get your plan in place.  #endoflife #estateplanning #advancedirective #livingwill @deathwdignity @bgnthebgn


District of Columbia Passes Death with Dignity Act

flowers-4As had been previously discussed, the District of Columbia was considering passing its form of the Death with Dignity Act (the “Act”) that is modeled after the Oregon law.  The D.C. Council, in a 11 to 2 decision, voted in favor of the bill.  A final vote must be held before the end of the year.  Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has the ability to veto the bill, but in recent comments she indicated that she would not veto the bill and it would become law.  Given D.C.’s status of not being a state, Congress will still have the ability to review and overturn the bill should it become law.

The Act allows a terminally ill individual who has received a prognosis of less than six months to request and receive medication that would end life.  The individual must make two oral requests separated by at least 15 days to his or her physician.  A written request must also be made before the second oral request is made and at least 48 hours must pass before the medication is received.  The written request must be witnessed by two individuals who can attest that the decision to end life is voluntary.  One of the witnesses has to be entirely independent, that is, not related or subordinate in some fashion.  The individual has to be able to take the medication on their own without any help from medical professionals, caretakers, home healthcare aides, family or friends.  Finally, the individual must be a resident of the District of Columbia.  If the bill survives the second vote by the D.C. Council and Congressional review, D.C. will join Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California in enacting a death with dignity law.  #endoflife #estateplanning #advancedirective #livingwill @deathwidignity @bgnthebgn

2017 Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions

money-2The IRS recently announced the estate and gift exemption levels for 2017 and they continue to increase as per legislation passed in January 2013.  The applicable exclusion amount from Federal estate tax will increase to $5.49 million per person allowing a married couple to shelter $10.98 million from Federal estate tax, the rate for which is currently set at 40%.  The lifetime exemption from gift tax remains coupled with the exemption from Federal estate tax, and therefore, this exemption will also increase to $5.49 million per person.  The annual gift exclusion amount will remain at $14,000 per person.  Virginia continues to not impose a state level estate tax.  Maryland’s exemption from estate tax will increase to $3 million while the District of Columbia’s exemption will remain at $1 million until certain revenue surplus targets are met, which may not be until 2018, at which point the exemption will increase to $2 million.  As a reminder, proposed regulations issued in August will significantly reduce the availability of valuation discounting on certain transfers of interests held in closely held or family owned businesses, and therefore, taking advantage of 2016 exemption levels is critical for some individuals, business owners and families.

For seniors and those with disabilities, a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Social Security Income (“SSI”) will increase monthly benefits by 0.3%.  In addition, the cap on the amount of earnings subject to payroll tax will increase to $127,200.  Finally, the tax brackets, standard deductions, Pease and PEP limitations, kiddie tax and other credit and deduction levels for 2017 were announced. #estateplanning #estatetax #gifttax #annualgift #exemptionlimits #COLA2017 @bgnthebgn