By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Guardianship & Power of Attorney Lawyer
The theme of today’s blog entry is about trust. One of the lessons we’re told growing up is that trust is earned. When young, if a stranger comes by and offers to take you out to get some ice cream, we are told never to talk to strangers, and to just walk away. However, if Grandma is coming over to take you out, you certainly trust her, no questions asked. As a member of the family, your grandmother was/is somebody you trust, versus a random person who offers to buy you something but who you do not know. This sounds simplistic, but it is our theme as we delve into the Uniform Fiduciaries Law.
Trust must also be earned when you are a professional. Doctors earn your trust by knowing what is wrong with you and being able to handle your physical and/or mental ailment(s). As lawyers, we must earn the trust of clients to properly advocate on their behalf.
A fiduciary must also earn trust. If it’s a financial planner or broker they must be trusted to ensure that your money is properly invested in their bank or brokerage firm, and that when you want the money from your account it is honestly us, not by an imposter. The same general rules apply to a fiduciary like of a power of attorney or guardian.
So powerful is their responsibility that the law says that any check from somebody who has attained a fiduciary status, like a power of attorney or guardian generally doesn’t need to be questioned about his or her authenticity and legality. The Uniform Fiduciaries Law boils down to one overarching concept- the check you receive from me because I am a fiduciary is as good as gold, and you have no reason to question it. In so many words, it says if a check from a fiduciary is ever found to be issued fraudulently, as a recipient of the check, you have no liability to others because you relied on their fiduciary status when you accepted the check as payment.
In our next blog, we will talk about two exceptions to this law, and how you can be liable if you accept a check from someone who is defrauding his or her client as a fiduciary. Trust me, it’s coming!
To discuss your NJ Guardianship or Power of Attorney matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.