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.
Read More: Can a Person With Power of Attorney Change a Will?
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.
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.
Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.