As the COVID-19 crisis was growing in Hawaii, Maui attorney Meg Obenauf, running her law office from her living room, wondered what she and her team could do to help while under stay-at-home orders. “We were stuck at home, and I loved seeing so many people contribute by making face masks, but I don’t know how to sew,” recalled Obenauf. Then they began getting calls to the office from worried health care workers wanting to make wills and health care directives in the event they got sick or even passed away from their exposure to the coronavirus.
“That’s when I realized this could be our way of giving back. If the first responders were willing to go to work every day with the fear that they or their families could be exposed to such a frightening virus, we could help out by offering them free emergency estate plans.”
Obenauf’s law firm began offering free wills, powers of attorney, and advance health-care directives to first responders, including health care workers, police officers, firefighters, and paramedics on Maui. The firm, which includes Obenauf, Daneille Hansen, Cheryl Leong, and Penny Shimada, provided $58,000 in pro bono legal work for the community.
“As a small business owner, I’m worried about the future like everyone else… but this has been such a rewarding and humbling opportunity for us to give back,” says Obenauf. “We are so grateful for our local healthcare workers, nursing home workers, first responders, and everyone else coming together to fight this virus. I hope these small gestures from our law firm help to show that gratitude.”
Meg Obenauf is the founder of Obenauf Law Group (obenauflawgroup.com), an estate planning and elder law firm in Wailuku.