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Can I name multiple people as my power of attorney?

Yes, you can name more than one person on your durable power of attorney, but we generally advise against it under most circumstances.

First, there is no legal reason why you cannot name more than one person as your power of attorney - you can name 10 people if you want. The real question is should you name more than one person? The answer is no, unless you have a specific reason. The reason why we do not want more than one is in the event of a conflict.  With multiple decisionmakers, there is always the ability for people to conflict on decisions. Conflicts may mean paralysis as each decisionmaker can overrule the other.  Who is in charge with multiple powers of attorney if a conflict occurs? Answer: no one! We prefer to name one person at a time in descending order - i.e., start at your spouse and move to children in order of priority.

There is, however, a great exception to this rule: when you have an aging couple, it may be best to name your spouse and a responsible child as attorneys-in-fact. This will help in the event either parent is incapacitated and needs help through the durable power of attorney. An example is as follows:

Mom and dad are age 90 and having a few health issues and memory problems.  They are both acting independently and are in charge of all decisionmaking.  Due, however to their advanced age, they name their trusted and responsible son as co-power of attorney. We also granted independent signature powers so they can act alone. Our planning in this situation is far preferable to the parents just naming each other because of a possible downturn at or around the same time.  This prevents crisis situations and stress for the family, to say the least.

We hope this post has been helpful!  Please let us know if you have any further questions or want to attend one of our free estate planning or elder law seminars.

 

D. Rep DeLoach III
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