Can Married People Share the Same Power of Attorney Form?

By Teo Spengler

A couple may consider themselves to have become one during the marriage ceremony, but they remain individuals in the eyes of the law for power-of-attorney purposes. A competent adult uses the legal document termed power of attorney to name an agent to make certain decisions on her behalf. Even when two spouses agree on the scope of a power of attorney and want to name the same agent, each must execute a separate power of attorney form.

A couple may consider themselves to have become one during the marriage ceremony, but they remain individuals in the eyes of the law for power-of-attorney purposes. A competent adult uses the legal document termed power of attorney to name an agent to make certain decisions on her behalf. Even when two spouses agree on the scope of a power of attorney and want to name the same agent, each must execute a separate power of attorney form.

Description

Filling out a power-of-attorney form should not be undertaken lightly. The legal document can confer sweeping authority, since it authorizes another person to act for you, generally in financial or medical matters. Because of the opportunity for abuse, most states require notaries or witnesses or both to attest the principal's signature and some impose other formalities. Each person must execute an individual power of attorney. According to the Minnesota Attorney General, "a power of attorney ... is limited to one person; a married couple would each need their own power of attorney."

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now

Scope

You can opt for a limited or general power of attorney. Whether you are selling your car or taking four months off to sail the Atlantic Ocean, you can tailor the authority to act under a power of attorney to suit the circumstances. If you want your agent to be able to act if you are incapacitated, select a durable power of attorney; other types expire if the principal is incapacitated. Although some people include authority in both medical and financial decisions in one power of attorney, the American Bar Association suggests that you use two separate documents. If a married couple wishes to make both medical and financial powers of attorney, four separate legal documents are recommended.

Policy Reasons

Policy reasons abound for requiring each spouse to make a separate legal document. It is not a given that each spouse desires to give the same scope of authority to an agent. Since the agent will be able to exercise only the authority described in the power-of-attorney document, a principal must feel free to limit the scope in whatever way works best for her, without consideration of the other spouse's wishes. In addition, the express revocation or death of a principal terminates a power of attorney; a joint power of attorney's effectiveness would become ambiguous should only one spouse revoke it or die or should the marriage end in divorce. Medical or healthcare powers of attorney allow the principal to specify her medical preferences should she become incapacitated, to guide the agent's decisions. Spouses may not share the exact ideas on these important issues.

Simultaneous Execution

On the other hand, no state law impedes a married couple from executing individual powers of attorney at the same time. The couple may consult with an attorney together, obtain forms together and fill them in at the same time. In states mandating that a notary or witnesses affirm the principal's signature, the spouses can use the same notary and witnesses. If state law requires that the documents be recorded, the powers of attorney can be recorded at the same time and stored for safe keeping in the safe file. However, each form should list only one principal.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now
Power of Attorney Rules

References

Resources

Related articles

Definitions of Durable and Non-Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney, or POA, grants an individual (“agent”) the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of another individual (“principal”). The decision can involve legal, financial or health matters. The power of attorney may be limited in scope; it may also be more general, allowing the agent a wide range of legal powers. A durable power of attorney refers to the agent’s authority when the principal is incapacitated.

Can You Have a Dual Power of Attorney With Two Acting Agents?

A power of attorney for finances is a document that gives someone – your agent – the right to act on your behalf, but sometimes it’s helpful to have two agents acting for you instead of one. State laws governing powers of attorney vary. Multiple agents who can act together are generally permitted, but some states, like Florida, allow co-agents to act independently of each other unless the power of attorney document specifies otherwise.

Explanation of Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one person the power to make certain decisions for another person. The person who signs the document is called the principal. The person authorized to make decisions on behalf of the principal is called the agent or the attorney-in-fact. The agent does not need to be an lawyer. There are several different types of power of attorney, and each gives the agent authority to make different types of decisions.

Related articles

Can a Mother or Father Obtain Power of Attorney if the Child Is Married?

The tension between a spouse and her in-laws is notorious, but a power of attorney is not an appropriate battleground. ...

Two Types of Power of Attorney

Although powers of attorney documents serve many different purposes, they can be divided into two broad categories -- ...

What Happens if Two People on a Power of Attorney Disagree?

When a person, known as the principal, creates a financial or medical power of attorney, she may name two agents and ...

Can a Person Give or Turn Over Her Power of Attorney to Someone Else?

Although a power of attorney involves two persons, it is not a contract and can be unilaterally revoked. The person ...

Browse by category