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They call them “Power of Attorney” documents for a reason

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Stop, pause and count to 17 before you sign anything!

How many times are we asked to sign things, and then just go ahead and sign?

We go to restaurants and sign credit card receipts, but do we really review the bill? Do we read the fine print in a sales contract? We sign things all day and most of the time, we are thinking about something else – golf tomorrow, seeing the kids, or getting home to take a nap.

I prepare estate planning documents and the client generally looks bored when I review the documents. The Power of Attorney documents are among them. You know, the ones in which you give all your power away, at least temporarily. You are giving someone “your life”.

I can say this to someone sitting across from me, and they still don’t get it.

To me, it’s like they are saying, ‘okay, so just let me just sign it. I’ve got things to do!’

What document can be as significant as a Power of Attorney? When I read it slowly, and emphasize points each paragraph, I often hear an audible gasp.

“You mean my son can rewrite some of my will? Are you telling me that my nephew can take portions of my retirement plan, and place them someplace else?”

Of course they can! You are turning over your “power” to someone else.

What can I say to the bewildered client? How about first, picking out someone you absolutely trust to be your designee?

Maybe it’s not your kid — all kids aren’t necessarily ‘good’ kids.

I’m wondering why we don’t modify the language in the Power of Attorney documents to remove the boilerplate language that “gives away the store?” Maybe, this document should be more personalized? Maybe, and just maybe, we should spend some time to read a document before picking up a pen and signing it?

In my opinion, we have become “sound bitten” – we only want to know what can be read in a nanosecond. The headlines, perhaps.

My short advice is this: Stop, pause and count to 17 before you sign anything!

Take my advice for what it is… It’s just as I see it!

By Published On: October 25, 2016Categories: The "Baer" Facts0 CommentsTags:

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About the Author: Leonard F. Baer

Leonard Baer's practice focuses on Elder Law, and Estate Planning. His previous experience was in the area of complex criminal litigation, serving as Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Division for The United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Baer was recognized by the Office of The Attorney General, as one of the top prosecutors in the country during his tenure. He has been included in North Carolina Top Rated Lawyers, a distinction awarded to those lawyers recognized by their colleagues as leaders in their field. He has also been recognized by the Florida Bar, for his efforts in representing seniors and their families, who are victims of scams and fraud. Mr. Baer is an AV rated lawyer listed in Martindale-Hubbell, and has been selected for inclusion in their Bar Registrar of Preeminent Lawyers, which for over 90 years, includes only those select law practices that have earned their highest rating. He has been designated by Martindale-Hubbell as preeminent in his field, and in the top 5% of all lawyers practicing in the United States. Mr. Baer has also been ranked by AVVO, an online Legal Directory of over 200,000 lawyers nationally, as Superb, their highest rating. He served as adjunct professor of Sports Law at The University of Miami, and is a frequent lecturer on the topics of Elder Law, Estate Planning, Asset Protection and Fraud Protection. He has been a columnist for several newspapers for over 13 years and currently has a nationally syndicated blog, “As I See It” with a readership of over 25,000. Leonard is a Guest Contributor of The Silver Life.

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