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Powers of Attorney and Multiple Agents

When you create a power of attorney as a part of your estate plan, you will have to choose one or more agents who will be able to make decisions for you. Through the power of attorney document, your agent will become your legal representative and will speak with all the legal authority to grant that person. Because powers of attorney are so powerful, some people choose to select co-agents, or multiple agents. Here’s what you should know about multiple agents and powers of attorney.

Shared Powers

Agents under a power of attorney have all the decision-making abilities you, the principal, choose to give. For example, you can create a power of attorney that is very limited in scope. Such a power of attorney might give your agent the ability to buy or sell a piece of property on your behalf. Other powers can be much more broad. For example, you could create a power of attorney that gives your agent the ability to make any legal decision you have the ability to make.

Some people make powers of attorney that give this authority to multiple, or co-agents. Co-agents have the same authority, but they have to act together. When you named co-agents, your representatives will have to agree on any decisions they make. While this can act as a safeguard, it often creates hardships for the agents. If they cannot communicate, or if they have a disagreement, they might not be able to represent your interests to the best of their abilities.

Independent Agents

You can also use multiple agents under power of attorney by giving different agents different authority. For example, you might want to create a financial power of attorney that names two agents. One agent will have the legal authority to manage your business should you become incapacitated, while the other will have the authority to manage your investments and personal property.

Having independent agents who each have their own responsibilities is often a good idea. In some situations you might want to create several different powers of attorney, each of which grants specific authority to an individual agent. In other situations, a single document that delegates responsibility between two or more agents can be useful.

Backup Agents

Regardless of the type of power of attorney you create, it’s always a good idea to name backup or replacement agents. If your primary choice of agent is unable or unwilling to serve, your replacement agents can step in and take over those responsibilities. Failing to choose suitable replacements can mean that, when the time comes for your powers to take effect, you don’t have anyone who can step in to make decisions for you.

If you want to know more about powers of attorney, consider attending an upcoming free seminar. Space is limited, so contact us to register as soon as possible.

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