Two Years to Forget: Reflections On COVID 19

By Attorney Isaiah Richie, Schloemer Law Firm, S.C.

It’s been nearly two and a half years since we heard the now-infamous statement “two weeks to flatten the curve”.  For many, it has been a trying two years.  Virtually no profession or way of life escaped the pandemic unscathed.  Over the past two years, Schloemer Law Firm has been working with clients on many of the issues that arose during the pandemic.  Among those issues were estate planning, guardianships, business and employment, real estate and for-sale-by-owner contingencies, landlord and lease obligations, and contracts or contractual obligations that had to be put on hold or amended due to the disruptions in supply chain or work force demands.

In some instances, there was no way to predict and plan for COVID 19.  For example, there was generally no reason to include contingencies in real estate offers that would push out closing if one of the parties was quarantined.  However, many of the issues could have been substantially mitigated if proper considerations had already been in place.


There is no time like the present to consider estate planning.  Although there was an immediate rush to execute a Will, a Trust, or some other estate planning techniques at the onset of the pandemic, many found that it was either too little or too late.  Due to quarantines, many people were not able to execute their estate planning documents in the presence of two witnesses or a notary, as required by law.  The result was that many people either passed away or became incapacitated without the proper documents in place to make sure their estate was handled properly.

On top of that, many people did not have a power of attorney for health care or power of attorney for finances in place.  In some instances, when individuals were incapacitated due to being on a ventilator, their family was unable to assist them without having to obtain a Guardianship through the Courts, which is an expensive and time-consuming process.  In hindsight, a lot of time, heart break, and stress could have been avoided with several simple documents being in place.  If you have not considered having your estate planning done or haven’t updated it in several years, it is never too late to start with a consultation.


Perhaps the most common call our firm received at the onset of the pandemic was from business owners asking how their business would be affected by the pandemic:

  1. Do I qualify for PPP loans?
  2. Am I an “Essential Business”?
  3. Am I required to pay my employees for time off if they get COVID?
  4. Should I let employees work from home?
  5. If I let one employee work from home, do I have to let all my employees work from home?
  6. Am I liable if someone gets exposed to COVID 19 at my business?
  7. Are there OSHA or FMLA requirements that apply to my business?
  8. If I get sick, can one of my employees run my business in my absence?
  9. Can my spouse run the business if I am incapacitated or die?

With multiple government regulations and mandates being issued, many businesses found that they were ill-equipped to tackle these questions in such a fluid environment.  A review of their Employee Handbook, Operating Agreement, Shareholders Agreement, Members Agreement, leases, or contracts, showed that many businesses had not addressed any of these questions prior to the pandemic.  A comprehensive review of your business documents can help avoid future issues such as these.


Relatedly, many business contracts in hindsight could have been written to include contingencies for things such as supply chain disruptions or sickness/illness as a reason for nonperformance.  Our firm saw many breach of contract claims based on one party not being able to find the supplies or labor or a dramatic increase in the price of those supplies and labor.  While many parties recycle the same contracts they have from many years ago, it is important to review those contracts to make sure that they still contain the right language to apply to the challenges of today, including government shutdowns, regulations, and severe changes in the availability of resources.


During the pandemic the federal government issued a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.  Few landlords understood that the moratorium was based only on the nonpayment of rent.  In fact, there were still several avenues to evict a troublesome tenant, but only if the lease had been properly written.  Many times, a review of the lease showed that it did not properly lay out the conditions upon which the tenant could be evicted, such as destruction of property or improper use of the property.  Many landlords would have substantially benefited by setting up a quality lease.


During the pandemic, the housing market did not seem to slow down.  In fact, with the low interest rates and injections of cash, many homeowners found selling their house came quite easily.  However, closings and contingencies were greatly affected.  Many “For Sale by Owner” sellers and buyers failed to close because one or more of the parties contracted COVID 19 and was unable to finish certain requirements.  In hindsight, more contingencies and amendments are available that could have been used to mitigate some of these issues.  Many of those tools are still available, including limiting remedies of the opposing party if they fail to close.


There is never a better time than now to start planning for the next issue.  Most people did not foresee the COVID 19 pandemic or the impact that a global event like that could have on our personal and professional lives.  While we cannot predict what the next regional, national, or even global issue might be, we can take steps to mitigate the damage that any future issues might bring.  The first step is speaking to your attorney about one or more of these areas, particularly if you are a business owner or have substantial estate planning goals.


Schloemer Law Firm is a full-service firm and has experience in assisting with almost every legal arena.  You can read more about our areas of experience here:

If you’d like to talk to a Wisconsin estate planning or business law attorney experienced in handling these matters, please contact our firm at [email protected] or call us at 262-334-3471 to schedule a time to meet with one of our Wisconsin Estate Planning or Business Law Attorneys.

We frequently represent individuals and families in their legal matters, focusing primarily on providing business, estate planning, and family law legal services in Wisconsin including Washington, Ozaukee, Dodge, and Fond du Lac Counties and the communities of West Bend, Jackson, Slinger, Hartford, Kewaskum, Cedarburg, Grafton, Menomonee Falls and other surrounding communities.

Originally published: June 7, 2023.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Due to the rapidly changing nature of law, Schloemer Law Firm makes no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or completeness of this content. You should consult with an attorney to review the current status of the law and how it applies to your unique circumstances before deciding to take—or refrain from taking—any action.  If you need legal guidance, please contact us at 262-334-3471 or [email protected].