Should I have one or multiple people as my power of attorney?

In reviewing the New York Times, I came across the following article in the  New Old Age section.


What is done when a power of attorney is left to both siblings jointly but one decides to become uncommunicative and “checks out,” not participating in decision-making, handling estate matters or caring for a parent with dementia? Does the sibling left with shouldering the burden really have to go to court to get the other sibling’s name taken off the power of attorney?

Your question indicates why naming multiple agents in a durable power of attorney and giving them equal authority can create chaos. If everyone gets along, if everybody’s always available, the partnership may work. If there’s conflict, or someone can’t be present when needed, problems arise.

I always recommend that a durable power of attorney name agents one at a time, in order of priority. The first person can serve alone, but if that person dies or is incapacitated or not available, then the next person can act alone, and so on down the list.

Additionally, Maryland law has changed regarding Power of attorneys. If you have an existing Power of Attorney, you need to have it reviewed and updated.

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