Can a power of attorney have more than one agent?

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Question:

Can you have a shared power of attorney? My aunt named her son as agent and he misused funds. Then she appointed her nephew and he let her credit rating slip because he did not pay bills in a timely fashion. Now she would like both her niece and nephew to have authority to handle financial matters for her; she thinks this will serve to keep both of them on their toes.

Answer:

When you make or change a durable power of attorney for finances, you are allowed to name more than one agent (or "attorney-in-fact," as this person is known in some states). If your aunt wants to name both niece and nephew, she may do so, but she will have to decide how they should carry out their duties.

She can give them each independent authority, which means that either can take care of any financial task authorized by the power of attorney document without consulting the other. Or she can require them to reach agreement before taking any action under the document.

If niece or nephew slips up and there's no one more trustworthy who can take the job, requiring them to act together in everything they do may well keep them on their toes. Giving them independent authority may simply create more chaos.

Of course, there are drawbacks to a shared power of attorney to consider, too. If there are conflicts between the agents, it could cause delays and disrupt the handling of your aunt's finances. This is always worth careful consideration when thinking about naming multiple agents.

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