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Sonia’s Estate Planning Horror Stories: The Generic Power of Attorney

Posted by Thompson Von Tungeln | Jan 26, 2023 | 0 Comments

By Sonia Chan Lee, Esq.

One of the best ways to learn is through other peoples' mistakes, which is why I have decided to put together this short column into our newsletter each month so that I can identify stories (either that we've seen first-hand here at Thompson Von Tungeln or that come up in the news with celebrities or other well-known individuals). 

In this month's issue, I wanted to spend some time on the importance of the Power of Attorney.  A Power of Attorney (also known as “POA”) is a legal document that is part of your complete estate plan which allows you to appoint someone to make decisions about your financial or medical matters if you ever become incapacitated or unavailable.  It's a very important document, because it not only helps ensure that the person of your choice is put into power and control, but it also helps avoid a potential costly and stressful process through the Probate Court to appoint someone for you, when needed.

What we are noticing with some of our new clients coming in with estate plans drafted by other attorneys or the do-it-yourselfers who went online or through some other means to get their legal documents, that they are utilizing a generic form of the POA, which is not specific to California.  California has some specific requirements, so a generic POA form creates a huge problem because it is likely not enforceable or, at a minimum, medical and financial institutions may not honor it right away when you need it, which means it may end up in court.

This is not something that you want to take a risk and gamble with!

If you are a client of Thompson Von Tungeln, rest assured that your POA was properly prepared to meet the California requirements and will work when you need it most.  However, if you have changed your POA, or you haven't done your estate plan yet, or you know of someone who may have gone somewhere else, this is something we are seeing more and more and it is entirely preventable.  Simply contact our office

or attend one of our upcoming free informational seminars and let us help you avoid making this mistake!

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