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

By Jeffry Olson, J.D.

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

By Jeffry Olson, J.D.

A power of attorney (POA) allows one person, the agent, to act on behalf of another person, the principal. Each state has its own laws governing powers of attorney. In general, most states allow multiple agents to act together. However, some states also allow for co-agents, who may act independently of one another. Review the laws of your state and the terms of the document creating the POA.

Types of Power of Attorney

A power of attorney may be either general or limited. A general POA is very broad, allowing the agent to make a wide variety of financial decisions on behalf of the principal. A limited POA is much more specific, often allowing the agent to act only for a certain transaction, such as a real estate closing or to access a certain financial account.

A power of attorney typically ends when the principal becomes incapacitated. However, a durable power of attorney survives the incapacitation of the principal. This allows the agent to continue making financial decisions, such as paying bills, on behalf of the principal even after they are incapacitated.

A principal must consider the purpose of the POA and how long it lasts when granting it. The language of the document is extremely important. Be advised that the authority always ends on the death of the principal.

Multiple Agents

A principal may grant power of attorney to multiple agents, either concurrently or jointly. Concurrent agents can act independently. Each agent has complete authority granted in the POA document. This may be a convenient way to accomplish the principal's goals.

Joint agents must act together, making all decisions jointly. This requires the agents to agree before taking any action. The power of joint agents to act independently is limited. This provides the principal additional protection from a poor decision made by one of the joint agents. However, the joint agents may not be able to act at all if they cannot reach an agreement.

Resolving Disputes Between Agents

In some circumstances, disputes arise between agents. They may not be able to agree or may not be willing to work together. The opinions of the agents may be in direct conflict. When granting POA to multiple agents, include dispute resolution provisions in the document. Agents may have to go to court to resolve disputes if no dispute resolution appears in the power of attorney document.

It is possible for a principal to execute a power of attorney that names multiple agents, but they should give careful consideration to the power of each agent. If the principal wishes each agent to be able to act alone, they should name concurrent agents. If the principal wishes each agent to act together to make all decisions, they should name joint agents. Either way, the power of attorney document should provide for a method of dispute resolution to avoid court. Naming multiple agents may allow the principal to accomplish their goals with the power of attorney more easily.

Before drafting a power of attorney, consider speaking to both agents to ensure that all parties are in agreement as to the terms of the POA. Everyone should understand their role and responsibilities before agreeing to sign it. Putting more information into the POA can not only be helpful for you and your designated agents, but it can also help in avoiding legal complications down the line.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.