Should I make more than one Power of Attorney?

June 18, 2017 10:15 am Published by Leave your thoughts

There’s a classic rule about the benefits of redundancy: one is none, two is one.

In other words, you can break anything, especially critically important things, so have a second on hand just in case – spare tires, extra batteries for the flashlight, an extra pair of socks. Today I’m going to explain why the rule of two can be so important in personal planning documents.

Power of Attorney

Having a backup is incredibly important with an Enduring Power of Attorney. These specialized legal tools appoint someone to manage your financial and legal affairs.  Your attorney can help you if you are capable, or even after you lose the capacity to do things for yourself.

Like any legal document, you have to have the capacity to make it, or to update it – so if there are any flaws in your document, you won’t be able to fix them if you have lost capacity.

A common mistake I come across happens when people appoint someone their own age (like a spouse or sibling) to be their attorney, without a back-up. Oftentimes these documents are prepared years in advance of their use, and while your brother may seem fit and capable at 58, he too may have lost decision making capacity at 70 when you need his help as attorney . Similarly, when people you appoint pass away, you’ll have to get a new appointment drafted up (assuming you still have the capacity to do so).

This is why it’s important to appoint two attorneys, one as your top choice, and a second in the event that they can’t act. While your sister may be your top choice, having your nephew as a back-up means you should still have support, even if your first choice fails.

Two originals – not what I meant

Sometimes, people will ask me to have multiple original documents drawn up and signed, believing that it will make things easier down the line. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Many Powers of Attorney contain language deliberately revoking prior attorney appointments. If you sign 3 originals, each of which revokes prior appointments, which one is valid? Just make one original document for each attorney, and make copies from that.

Having an attorney to begin with

So if two is one, and one is none, what do we call none? Dangerous.

Not having a Power of Attorney can leave you and your family vulnerable in case of accident or emergency. Accidents happen.  Strokes and heart attacks happen.  Your family doesn’t actually have the right to deal with your finances and legal affairs without a Power of Attorney from you.

So if you are going to the trouble of making a power of attorney, make a second one appointing an alternate while you’re at it.  It doesn’t take any longer, and gives you assurance that you will have coverage.  It also means your loved ones can spend more time with you and less time and expense fixing complicated legal and financial problems.

If you only have a single power of attorney made, if your power of attorney is outdated, or, worst of all, if you don’t have a power of attorney at all, call us. We’ll ensure that your affairs are in order.

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This post was written by Fraser McKinnon