Can you name co-Powers of Attorney?

Dear Ms. Allison: Is it possible to name two people as “co” powers of attorney and as co-medical powers of attorney? One is an immediate family member and is local. She would also be an heir, as well as her children. The other is out of town and would not be an heir. However, he is an attorney and knowledgeable about medical issues. He could function an advisory capacity to my younger, less educated daughter. Would naming them as co-POA’s be appropriate, workable and legitimate? Thanks for your opinion on this as a possibility. SA in Northeastern Oklahoma

Dear SA:

I don’t recommend it.

Healthcare Powers of Attorney (POA) are more easily used. If you are bound and determined to do co-powers, this is the least difficult one to do that. However, you’d better have a provision that determines who is in charge when they disagree. Also, with serious decisions, both of your agents on the POA may be required to appear to confirm their choices to the authorities.

Financial Powers of Attorney in general are often difficult to use. If you put two people (agents) in charge, both may have to appear to get anything done. You have the same difficulty with who is in charge when they disagree. You can write into the Power that either one can act independently, but this does not mean that anyone in authority over the account will give your instruction credence.

Powers of Attorney for Finance have become so difficult to use that my advice to almost everyone is to do a Revocable Trust and put in it every single asset that qualifies to be in it. Co-Trustees are, most often, automatically given credence. It is rare that a financial institution refuses to honor the directions of a Co-Trustee.

Still, you may have assets like an IRA. These don’t qualify for ownership by a Trust, but can be accessed only by a Financial Power of Attorney. Therefore, it is inevitable that most people may end up needing the use of a Financial Power of Attorney. In that circumstance, I recommend you record the Power of Attorney at the county courthouse. Also, while you are still in your right mind, you should personally deliver it to your financial institution and associate it with your account. With that done, most institutions will honor it.

Many other issues should be addressed so the Financial Power of Attorney ensures that your agent(s) have the ability to use it correctly, easily, and efficiently. These are just a few examples so you can see that your idea is less than adequate for the purpose you stated.

That’s your question, Asked and Answered. My best to you,

Gale Allison

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