At LDM, we share all the concerns of every family and business as our country faces this unprecedented time in our lives. We echo the reassurance of health care experts that we can all get through this together. We add to that our commitment to continue addressing the legal concerns of existing and new clients as steadfastly as always.

In the realm of legal matters, there is an important step that everyone should take to protect yourself and your family in the event of contingencies that may arise in the coming weeks. Your coronavirus “checklist” should include making sure that you have durable powers of attorney for health care and finances in place.

#1: Review Your Estate Plan and Powers of Attorney

If you have an estate plan, locate it and find your durable powers of attorney for health care and finances. Review them and make certain that they are up to date. If you don’t have durable powers of attorney, call us and put them in place now.

How Durable Powers of Attorney Address Coronavirus Risks

The risks associated with coronavirus include the possibility of temporary or permanent incapacity. If you become incapacitated — even temporarily — and do not have durable powers of attorney in place, no one can legally make health care and financial decisions for you. Even spouses cannot make health care decisions for each other.

If you have durable powers of attorney in place, your attorney-in-fact will be able to make health care decisions on your behalf and tend to your daily financial affairs while you are incapacitated by the coronavirus (or any other cause).

In the absence of durable powers of attorney, the only way for a family member to get legal authority to act on your behalf in health care or financial matters is to petition the court for appointment as your guardian and conservator. A court proceeding results in unnecessary time delays and costs, which is not a satisfactory solution in a family emergency.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care / Advance Directive

In a durable power of attorney for health care you authorize a named individual to be your advocate and make health care decisions for you, if you become physically or mentally incapacitated, temporarily or permanently. You should also include an advance directive stating your wishes concerning medical treatment and end-of-life care.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney

In a durable financial power of attorney, you designate a person or financial institution as your attorney-in-fact to manage your financial matters if you become incapacitated. Your attorney-in-fact has only the powers that you specifically grant in the document.

Creating Durable Powers of Attorney in Nebraska

To ensure the validity of your POAs, you should never use a do-it-yourself service or form. When an attorney prepares the documents for you, your POAs take your individual situation and wishes into account. Your lawyer also ensures that the documents are legally valid under applicable Nebraska laws. Putting these documents in place does not involve a complicated process in most cases.

#2: LDM Is Here to Help in Any Way We Can

Our attorneys are here and available to help if you need assistance with durable powers of attorney or any other legal matter. We are in the business of helping people. Despite the current state of affairs, we want you to know we are here for you. We are leveraging technology and all other available resources to address the needs of existing and new clients during this time.

We are here to help with durable powers of attorney, wills, trusts, and any other legal matters you and your family need. We provide a full range of services relating to estate planning and are happy to discuss the right course of action for your unique situation.

The above article was authored by Catherine E. French, Partner Attorney at Lamson Dugan & Murray LLP.