One of the most popular recurring questions is, “Why should I pay an attorney to draft documents I can get internet documents or buy at the office supply store for $24.99?” Our answer is always the same, “Well, you get what you pay for…”Boilerplate or standard fill-in-the-blank documents found online do not take into account changes in the law. They also do not give the person executing the documents the freedom to tailor to their needs.
The law changed recently for durable powers of attorney. The new law provides that any document executed before the change is still valid. However, we cannot assume that financial institutions will be aware of the changes. It may take a financial institution several days to approve a durable power of attorney that does not abide by the new law’s requirements. Usually when someone is rushing to a financial institution with a durable power of attorney it is because there is a time sensitive matter. Therefore, a delay from the financial institution’s legal department could be detrimental to the situation at hand. With an old durable power of attorney, a financial institution may also provide their own in-house boilerplate power of attorney but this is executed without the knowledge and experience of an estate planning attorney. These boiler plate forms or internet documents could interfere with the client’s previously executed estate plan.
When client’s execute a durable power of attorney prepared by a lawyer. We suggest they take it to the financial institution themselves so it can be in their records and there is no delay. Many times clients have one of their children is already a co-signer on the account. Although this allows for easy access, if that person passes away the child on the account technically receives that amount. They do not have to share the inheritance with other siblings unless there is evidence of fraud or undue influence.
Avoid Internet Documents
Even with a careful review of the new statute. It is always better to have an estate planning attorney draft these documents. That way, when the need arises your documents function as planned.