I Saw This Mistake Three Times In One Week

Frequently in my Elder Law practice, an adult child of an ill parent will approach me for help.  It is common for them to have been appointed as an Agent under Power of Attorney for their parent.  One of my first steps is to review the Power of Attorney document to determine if it is legally sufficient and to understand the legal authority it grants.  

In one recent week, on three different occasions, I had individuals come to my office with a Power of Attorney document that was not validly executed.  What was the problem?

On January 1, 2015, the law in Pennsylvania regarding Powers of Attorney changed in several respects.  One of the primary changes was a revision to the standard notice provisions that are required to be the first page of these documents.  In the event the notice is incorrect, the document’s validity could be challenged.

During that week, three different families came to my office with outdated notice pages from Power of Attorney forms they printed off the Internet.  Unfortunately, each document was signed after the implementation of the new law, which means they weren’t properly created.

The lesson here is to be very careful with your planning.  Don’t trust your life’s savings to a form document off the Internet or off of a shelf.  The law is constantly changing and only attorneys should be drafting estate planning documents.  Yes, lawyers are more expensive than form documents.  Compromise somewhere else.  Your family’s well being is more important than saving a few dollars.