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** This article has been revised from its original version which was published on June 10, 2020.
A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a legal document allowing a person (referred to as the principal) to delegate authority related to legal and financial matters to another person or persons (referred to as the agent).
Durable powers of attorney are helpful if you are traveling or otherwise unavailable to make certain financial transactions. And a durable power of attorney, including a health care proxy, is crucial if you become incapacitated. Without them, legally handling your affairs requires going to court to establish guardianship.
New York Law
New York law does not limit the number of agents you can appoint in this document. The principal controls whether the agents have the authority to act separately or together. Unless you specifically designate otherwise, the agents must act collectively. An advantage to having your agents work together is a safeguard of checks and balances. However, it may also cause delays in decision-making based on an agent’s availability or disagreements between the parties.
A more practical approach is to allow the agents to act separately. Even when making individual decisions, the agents should still openly communicate with each other to avoid duplicating efforts, such as paying the same bill twice.
Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
Although there is no limit on the number of agents you can appoint in your Durable Power of Attorney, the old adage “too many cooks in the kitchen” still applies. Selecting more than two or three persons to serve at one time may prove counter-productive.
It is important to consult with an experienced attorney when considering your power of attorney to discuss and outline the pros and cons of these decisions as they relate to specific circumstances.
- Who would you choose to be your power of attorney to handle financial matters if you were unable to do so yourself?
- Who would you name as a health care proxy to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated?
The person or persons you choose should be trustworthy and reliable. They must have your best interests in mind and may have to act under pressure.
Estate planning attorneys in New York can help you determine the best candidates for the role of durable power of attorney. They may be family members or professionals. Depending on your situation, we will guide you on the number of agents that make the most sense for your DPOA.
At Russo Law Group, P.C., creating durable powers of attorney is just one part of the estate planning process. We can help draft or review other critical documents, like wills, trusts, and healthcare directives, to support your overall estate plan. We also assess the need for elder law services for aging family members. The right combination of documents ensures your wishes are carried out according to your specific instructions and your family legacy is secure. Please contact our law firm to speak with one of our experienced elder law and estate planning attorneys in New York today at 1 (800) 680-1717.