The Weekly Scenario: Should I Appoint More than One Agent Under A Durable Power of Attorney?
Question: Is it a good idea to appoint more than one agent under a durable power of attorney?
Answer: This is an area where I know there are a number of differences of opinion among attorneys. It is important to be careful as I have seen some financial institutions that will not accept powers of attorney naming multiple agents because in their opinion, one may countermand the other.
In my experience, I have not seen a power of attorney rejected by a financial institution simply because the document named two or more agents.
I do know of some attorneys who have prepared powers of attorney for clients where each document named different agents. My concern is that if child 1 goes to the bank with his power of attorney and then child 2 goes to the same bank with a different document, it will cause confusion and ultimately rejection by the bank.
In the case where the power of attorney names two agents, either of whom can act without the consent of the other agent, it seems that this lends itself to more flexibility because either agent can take on the tasks and responsibilities for the individual who named them. While there is benefit derived from the flexibility, on the other side, there isn’t a ‘check and balance’ in place if one agent is doing tasks unbeknownst to the other. As with anything else, there is a cost/benefit analysis that should be contemplated.
Since every situation is different, I don’t believe there are hard and fast rules. However, I will say, in general:
- Designate a person(s) you trust;
- Appoint more than one person if that will make it easier to carry out the tasks at hand; and
- Provide that agents may act separately (except if there is a good reason for a check and balance system).
As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please let me know.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Steve Shane at firstname.lastname@example.org or .
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Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.
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