Making a power of attorney designation can be challenging as it involves entrusting someone else with the responsibility of making important medical or financial decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to. Sometimes, you may want to have two people serve as your power of attorney. But is that allowed by law?
In short, it is possible to name multiple individuals as power of attorney, and some lawyers even recommend doing so in certain situations. However, while it may seem like a good idea to share this responsibility among multiple people, such as designating two children as co-agents, it’s essential to consider the potential legal consequences.
This article will provide you with all the necessary information to help you decide whether and how to appoint two power of attorneys.
- By appointing several agents to handle different assets, like real estate and artwork, you can benefit from their specialized skills and expertise.
- Appointing two siblings as power of attorney is a wise choice for families who want to divide responsibilities and avoid disagreements over assets.
- When designating multiple persons as power of attorney, consider appointing one as the primary representative and the other as the secondary representative to minimize conflicts.
- The principal can revoke the agent’s authority if they no longer wish them to have power of attorney.
Is it Beneficial to Have More Than One Power of Attorney?
In some cases, it may be best to choose a single person as your attorney-in-fact. When multiple people are appointed as attorneys-in-fact, disputes regarding the legitimacy of your document can arise. Such disagreements can impede decision-making, leading to the need for a guardianship process. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
For example, when an aging couple faces health challenges and memory issues, appointing both a spouse and a responsible child as agents can be advantageous. If one parent becomes incapacitated, the other parent and child can work together to make decisions, minimizing crises and family stress.
It’s crucial to consult an experienced attorney to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. Properly setting up a power of attorney is essential to avoid the need for guardianship.
Pros and Cons of Appointing Multiple Agents
Appointing more than one agent in a power of attorney arrangement has its advantages and disadvantages.
- Convenience: Having a second agent can make managing financial and estate affairs quicker and easier, especially if one agent is unavailable. The additional agent can handle local tasks, such as meeting with real estate brokers, bankers, and financial planners, in your absence.
- Shared Responsibilities: By appointing multiple agents with expertise in different areas, such as real estate or artwork, you can ensure that each aspect of your estate is properly handled based on their specialized knowledge.
- Disputes: Having multiple agents under a dual power of attorney increases the risk of disagreements, potentially causing family issues and legal actions. Agents may argue about financial decisions or question the principal’s mental competence.
- Concerns about Fraud: Third parties, including financial institutions, may hesitate to recognize co-authority. Financial institutions are particularly cautious about estate fraud, which can complicate estate planning and related matters upon your death.
- Increased Risk of Financial Elder Abuse: When two individuals have power of attorney, the risk of financial elder abuse may rise. If any agents are facing financial difficulties, they may be tempted to misuse the principal’s money.
- Logistical Issues: Appointing two or more agents can lead to logistical challenges, such as increased workload, confusion, and the possibility of disputes. Coordination becomes more challenging when making decisions like terminating life support, especially if the agents are in different locations.
Can Two Siblings Share Power of Attorney?
Appointing two siblings as power of attorney is a wise choice for families desiring to divide responsibilities and prevent disagreements. The law allows for this dual power of attorney, and it can ensure that everyone feels involved and important.
For instance, if one sister has financial expertise while the other works in the medical field, the first sister can handle money distribution, while the second sister can manage medical decisions and care. This arrangement leverages each sibling’s knowledge and skills.
Another advantage of appointing two siblings as power of attorney is minimizing future family conflicts. Sibling rivalry exists, and assigning roles to both siblings can prevent feelings of exclusion and favoritism.
However, it’s crucial to draft an unambiguous and specific power of attorney agreement to minimize confusion and uncertainty. A sibling agreement, created with the help of a lawyer, can elaborate on each sibling’s responsibilities and expectations.
Before finalizing the decision, open and transparent discussions about both siblings’ needs and intentions are vital to ensure everyone is on the same page and alleviate any concerns.
How to Create a Power of Attorney Arrangement with Multiple Siblings
Creating a power of attorney arrangement with several siblings requires careful consideration. The structure of a joint power of attorney agreement significantly affects the rights of each individual involved. Here are two common options:
- In this arrangement, the siblings are designated as co-agents with independent decision-making authority. All co-agents must agree to make a decision.
- The power of attorney should be signed by all co-agents in the presence of witnesses, and each agent should have a copy of the signed document.
- Alternatively, the siblings can be designated as joint agents, where all agents must be present and agree on decisions.
How to Avoid Conflict Between Co-Agents in a Power of Attorney
To minimize disagreements between multiple agents, consider the following strategies:
- Appoint one person as the primary representative and another as the secondary representative.
- Clearly separate roles, such as assigning one person to handle financial affairs and another to manage healthcare decisions.
- Assign specific duties to each agent.
- Employ a neutral third party to make decisions in case of conflicts.
Regardless, carefully weigh your options before making a decision.
Who Can Override a Joint Power of Attorney?
If the principal no longer wants an agent to have power of attorney, they can revoke it. However, this can only occur if the principal is of sound mind. If the principal cannot revoke a power of attorney but other family members believe it is necessary, they can pursue legal processes such as guardianship or conservatorship proceedings. The court may appoint a guardian or conservator to manage the principal’s financial and personal affairs.
Please note that the process and outcome may vary based on specific circumstances and jurisdiction laws.
If the agent is not acting in the principal’s best interests, they can be removed. It is advisable to work with a lawyer to officially seek their resignation. If this fails, the matter may need to be brought to court. Having the principal’s support can be beneficial in this process.
Many power of attorney agreements include provisions that can result in automatic termination, such as time limits or specified actions. The agreement may also terminate if either the principal or the agent dies.
Is Notarization Necessary for a Joint Power of Attorney?
The requirements for power of attorney vary from state to state. It is crucial to understand your state’s rules to ensure that your power of attorney arrangement is legally valid. Most states require power of attorney documents to be in writing, notarized, and signed by all parties involved. Some states may also require witnesses at the document’s signing.
Using the proper documents to execute a power of attorney is essential to prevent misunderstandings or administrative complications. Adding notarization or witnesses can add legitimacy to the document, even if not required by all jurisdictions.
What Happens if the Attorney-In-Fact Dies or Becomes Incapacitated?
If the designated attorney-in-fact dies or is unable to fulfill their duties, the durable power of attorney agreement should outline the course of action. Many power of attorney agreements have provisions for a successor attorney, usually a specific family member, to assume the role. The chosen successor must provide the necessary documentation, such as a death certificate or medical records, to officially take on the responsibilities as the new attorney-in-fact.
How Can I Make the Power of Attorney Process Easier for My Children?
Dividing tasks among family members can help alleviate the burden. For example, a parent can appoint one financially savvy daughter as the primary power of attorney while designating their son, a medical practitioner, as the secondary power of attorney for healthcare-related matters. This allows for specialized expertise in different areas and ensures comprehensive care for the parent.
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Remember, when it comes to making decisions about power of attorney, seeking advice from an experienced attorney is essential. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances and help you navigate the legal process effectively.