I often tell clients that one of the most important aspects of an estate plan is their selection of a trustee, agent, or other fiduciary. The best plan in the world can fall apart with a poor selection of fiduciary. Conversely, a plan fraught with problems can be saved or partially salvaged with the proper selection of (for instance) trustee. The human element is all important.
As a case in point, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband was, allegedly a very poor choice for her agent, for her durable powers of attorney. While a good agent/trustee ordinarily might keep matters out of court by acting in the best interests of the creator of the agency (the “principal”) or trust (as the “settlor”), the actions of Prince Frederic von Anhalt has evidently kept the power of attorney documents in active litigation, according to this article in the Examiner.com. That article goes on to state:
If Zsa Zsa Gabor had it to do over again, she might have chosen a better fiduciary under her power of attorney. Gabor is 95 years old today and her current and ninth husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, is 25 years her junior. Von Anhalt is her power of attorney.
Gabor’s daughter Francesca Hilton has been concerned for years that von Anhalt has abused his position as her mother’s power of attorney, alleging he has used the money for birthday parties, billboards, and his own mayoral campaign in L.A. Francesca has also accused von Anhalt of unnecessarily heavily sedating Gabor and restricting Francesca’s access to her mother.
This is a good lesson for all.