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, and 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!