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

By Heather Frances J.D.

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.

General vs. Limited Authority

Powers of attorney can give to an agent very broad, general authority to accomplish almost any task or they can grant limited authority to the agent to accomplish only a few specified tasks. For example, a general power of attorney might give an agent power to accomplish all financial tasks on behalf of the principal -- the person granting the powers -- but a limited power of attorney might only give an agent authority to pay specific bills or access a certain bank account.

Joint Power of Attorney

You can require your agents to act together, making all decisions jointly, which requires your agents to come to agreement before either can act. For example, if you have granted them the authority to write checks on your behalf, you can also require that both agents must sign each check. This type of power of attorney provides a limit on each agent’s independent authority, but may also prohibit agents from acting at all if they can’t reach agreement.

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Concurrent Power of Attorney

A concurrent power of attorney allows your agents to act independently of each other. Under this type of power of attorney, each agent has full authority at any time to exercise all powers granted under the power of attorney document. This independence allows agents to act more efficiently, but it can get confusing if, for example, both agents are writing checks on the same account.

Resolving Disputes

Your agents may not always agree under a joint power of attorney and may not consult with each other under a concurrent power of attorney. To avoid potential problems, you can include provisions for dispute resolution in the power of attorney document. If your power of attorney does not address disputes, your agents could be forced to go to court if there is a disagreement.

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What Is Financial Power of Attorney Abuse?

When you, as a principal, create a power of attorney, you give your agent a significant amount of authority to conduct transactions on your behalf. Since your agent has so much authority, it may be easy for him to abuse the power of attorney to act in his own best interests rather than yours. However, state laws can provide protection against abuses, and you can incorporate safeguards into your power of attorney to help deter abuse.

Power of Attorney Vs. Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) legally assigns authority to an agent to act on your behalf in matters that you specify within the document. There are different types of Powers of Attorney that provide agents with varying scopes of authority. However, you can draft any type of power of attorney to be durable. A durable power of attorney automatically extends the duration of the POA in the event you are mentally incompetent at the time it will expire.

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If you suddenly became unable to handle your own finances or make your own health care choices, a person you appointed in a power of attorney -- your agent -- could make decisions for you and take care of your financial affairs. Without a power of attorney, however, your family may have to go to court to obtain permission to manage these areas of your life when you are no longer able to.

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