A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows you to designate authority to another person, called an agent, to make decisions on your behalf. The POA is used when you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated due to disability or illness, and your agent can make financial and property decisions for you. In New York, you can sign a health care proxy and appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you, as well. New York doesn’t limit how many people you can appoint as agents in your POA document. The person who executes the POA, called the principal, can give the agent(s) general, broad, or limited power, depending on what the principal wants the agent to handle. Power of attorney brooklyn new york

You may wonder if you can name more than one person as your agent in your POA. While it’s well within your right to have multiple agents, it’s important to discuss the pros and cons with your New York Estate Planning attorney at Alatsas Law Firm, as designating more than one person can have advantages and disadvantages.

Types of Powers of Attorneys

The following are different types of POAs you should consider when creating your estate plan:

  • Durable power of attorney. A durable POA is effective immediately when it is signed and continues until the principal’s death or until the POA is revoked.
  • Nondurable power of attorney. This POA is temporary and usually used to handle specific transactions or for a shorter period, such as during the purchase or sale of real estate or handling certain responsibilities when the principal is traveling outside of the country.
  • Springing power of attorney. This POA allows the agent to “spring up” into the role at a specific time designated by the principal, such as when the principal becomes seriously ill or suffers a major injury. This allows the POA to conduct affairs on that person’s behalf when they cannot, but only temporarily.

Why You Might Want to Name Multiple Agents 

Because it can be difficult to give just one person the power to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated, you may want two or more people to handle your affairs. In the following circumstances, this might be advantageous:

  • You may have different assets that require special expertise—for example, you have rental properties that need attention, or you have a rare jewelry or artwork collection that must be handled.
  • You may want to divide specific responsibilities between family members to avoid conflicts.
  • You may want a second agent in case the first agent travels frequently and is unavailable when swift decisions need to be made, or that agent decides later they don’t want the job.

If you designate multiple people as agents in your POA, it’s important that you stipulate how the decisions will be made and tasks are to be divided.

Disadvantages of Naming Multiple Agents in Your Power of Attorney

While there are can be advantages to naming multiple agents, there can also be disadvantages, including the following:

  • It can be difficult to designate multiple agents who can all work together in case legal actions require agreement from all of them. It’s possible that appointing multiple agents can create unintended problems. 
  • There may be certain financial institutions that are suspicious of estate fraud and won’t recognize shared authority. This could cause numerous problems when signing documents or getting legal matters handled expeditiously.
  • When there are multiple agents named, there is an increased risk of financial elder abuse. If any of the agents are in trouble financially, they may be tempted to steal money from the principal.

Our Estate Planning Lawyers to Help Create Your Power of Attorney

Naming a power of attorney is an important decision, and you may be concerned about hurting a family member’s feelings if they aren’t named as an agent. Or, you may not trust that they’ll represent your best interests if you are incapacitated.

Because a POA is a legal document, it must include specific language and be notarized in accordance with the law. Working with a New York estate planning lawyer can help you talk through your options, consider all of your assets and how you want them handled if you can’t handle your own affairs, and make the best decision on appointing agents for your POA. Our lawyers can help you create a legal document that reflects your wishes and gives appropriate legal permission to your agent(s).