Business Powers of Attorney for Nebraska Farm and Ranch Business Owners

Business Powers of Attorney for Nebraska Farm and Ranch Business Owners

This information is intended for educational purposes only; it must not be taken as legal advice or as a substitute for legal advice. If you have legal questions about developing and implementing a power of attorney for operating your business should you be unable to do so yourself, contact an attorney.

This publication introduces the POA concept and discusses the Nebraska statutory form POA and its limitations. The purpose is to familiarize the reader with POAs, including their use and misuse, so that they can interact more effectively with their attorney in developing a POA, should they need one.

During this period of coronavirus pandemic, some Nebraskans may be concerned about how business decisions will be made for them if they are unable to make those decision themselves. In some well-structured businesses, like (1) corporations and (2) partnerships and limited liability companies with comprehensive operating agreements, there are formal chains of command, so it is legally clear who can substitute for the incapacitated business owner. In other, more informally structured businesses, such as partnerships operating with minimal or no written partnership agreements and many family operations, there is no clear chain of command and the business could grind to a halt until the incapacitated business owner is able to assume at least some of their business functions. If the farm or ranch is co-owned with a spouse or other relative, they may have the necessary legal authority to make important business decisions should the need arise. Consult your attorney to see whether your current business structure provides adequate legal and business backup should you become unable to operate the business yourself.

In the case where there is no well-structured legal documentation of who assumes business functions when a key manager is incapacitated —which would likely include many Nebraska farms and ranches — the business owner may seek to provide business operational continuity should they become unable to do so. The most convenient way to do this is through executing a power of attorney (POA). While there are online POA forms available, I cannot recommend them for anything other than dealing with a very sudden emergency situation. The powers granted in a checkbox POA form are, in my professional opinion, far too broad to grant without significant built-in safeguards and limitations. So, for most farms and ranches, I strongly recommend visiting with your attorney to develop a POA appropriate to your specific circumstances....

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