COVID-19: Legal Considerations

The COVID-19 virus “pandemic” has thrown the entire world into a lurch. The U. S. stock market appears to be spiraling out of control. Global economies are on the cusp of shutting down for the foreseeable future. Overall, there is a feeling of uneasiness among all people, if not full blown fear. These are uncertain times. But, while we watch global events unfold before us, we do not have to sit idly by and allow fear to over take our minds and hearts. There are actions that we can take to better prepare ourselves and our families for the future uncertainty of the weeks and months ahead.

First, due to the type of virus, how it is contracted, and the lack of a vaccination at this time, treatment of COVID-19, once contracted, includes, but is not limited to, quarantining the individual carrying the virus, as well as quarantining those individuals who have weak or compromised immune systems and are more susceptible to the harmful effects of the virus. Many employers have sent, and will be sending, their employees home to work remotely to avoid the possibility of contamination and to limit the transfer of the air borne pathogen.

The following are matters that you and your loved ones should be considering to assist you during these difficult times:

Do you have a power of attorney in place?
A power of attorney is a document that allows one individual to conduct business and other daily activities on behalf of another as that person’s agent or “attorney in fact”. A power of attorney can be broad and sweeping in its powers or it can be narrowly tailored to fit the needs of the individual during a specific period of time. For example, a husband or wife is diagnosed with COVID-19 and must be quarantined. If the husband or wife was thoughtful and diligent enough to have executed a power of attorney naming his/her spouse to act on his/her behalf, then while that person is quarantined, the other spouse can continue to act and conduct vital and necessary business on the other spouse’s behalf.

Likewise, if an adult child has an elderly parent who should quarantine themselves to avoid the possibility of contracting COVID-19, and that elderly parent has executed a power of attorney naming the adult child to act as his/her agent or attorney in fact, then the adult child can help the elderly parent pay bills, transact business, obtain medicines and carry out other day-to-day business on behalf of the parent.

Do you have a living will in place?
A living will, also known as an advanced directive, provides health care providers and others with information regarding the types of treatment an individual desires to receive during serious medical situations. Further, a living will provides an individual with the opportunity to name a health care proxy to meet with health care professionals and help determine treatment if that individual is permanently unconscious or terminally ill.

If you need help drafting a power of attorney or living will, please call the attorneys of Stanko & Senter, LLC for a consultation.