Estate Planning Myths -- Debunked!

Myth #2: One power of attorney is just as effective as any other, right?

Reality: Wrong! A power of attorney often is only as good as the drafting attorney willing to enforce it.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all powers of attorney are NOT created equal.”

In this case, the “we” is interchangeable with the professionals at Gale & Nielsen.

Why, you ask?

Because “we” have borne witness to too many nightmare scenarios involving powers of attorney that either were poorly drafted or that were otherwise unenforceable -- the latter, often, because the paper document went begging for the endorsement of a skilled and willing attorney.

Check-the-box power of attorney forms are, after all, freely available online. Through self-help legal books and elsewhere, one theoretically may designate a friend or relative as agent to handle one’s finances or health care decisions, all within the course of one’s lunch break.

The bare ingredients necessary? They are few: A ballpoint pen, willing agent and a copy-store notary usually will do the trick.

That is, until the arrival of that crucial moment when one’s life savings -- or indeed, one’s very life -- literally depends on the craftsmanship and the professional backing of that piece of paper.

When that moment of crisis is visited upon you or those you love, ask yourself: Do you trust your life to a piece of paper photocopied out of the back of a library book? A piece of paper notarized, no less, by a counter clerk wearing a polo shirt emblazoned with a corporate logo, name-tag and “flair”?


Case in point: A conscientious, but money-wise prospective client recently asked the following of one of our attorneys, “What’s the cheapest power of attorney available that will still get the job done?”

The answer is simple: powers of attorney are just like cutlery. As in, knives, spoons, forks and so on.

Theoretically, the cheapest piece of cutlery that will “get the job done” would be the complimentary spork you receive at the fast food drive-thru of your choice.

Sure, you can eat with it a time (or maybe two -- we know, gross!)

But what if it breaks? And, what if you need that spork a year, two years, twenty years from now? 

(No offense, but we hope not!)

Unfortunately, the powers of attorney produced by Gale & Nielsen are not complimentary. 

But nor, on the other hand, is any instrument we provide disposable, cheap, made of plastic, nor suitable for placating that 2:00 a.m. junk food jones (but that’s another story).

Going back to the cutlery analogy: our powers of attorney are like knives hand-crafted of Damascus steel, individually tailored to suit the particular needs of the client. Proud of each article we craft, we stand ready and able to *enforce* every instrument we sell, at a moment’s notice.

Because we know that our clients’ lives -- and assets -- may very well depend on it.

To see our craftsmanship first-hand, call us today for a -- ahem, complimentary -- half-hour appointment: (707) 269-0167.