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What Is Dual Power of Attorney
A dual power attorney, as the name suggests, is a power of attorney where a person (the principal) names two individuals as his or her attorney-in-fact (or agents).
Typically, the attorneys-in-fact will be given powers to make decisions for and on behalf of the principal.
For example, if the principal has given a dual power of attorney to two individuals to manage her financial affairs, then the two agents will have the ability to handle the principal’s financial matters on the basis of the dual PoA.
When agents are jointly named in a power of attorney, their powers can only be exercised when they act jointly.
In other words, both agents must agree on the financial and health decisions being made for the principal.
Anyone can be named as a joint agent under a power of attorney.
It’s common to see that a person will name two family members as a joint agent to deal with the principal’s financial affairs or make medical decisions.
For example, a father or mother may appoint his or her two children as joint agents under a power of attorney.
It’s also possible to appoint professionals as joint agents as well.
For example, a person may appoint one family member and one attorney as joint agents.
Having a professional as a joint agent ensures that the decisions made on behalf of the principal are in his or her best interest, are well-informed decisions, and are without any conflict of interest of any kind.
Having two people make decisions will help bring more transparency as to the decisions (at least between the two agents) and can prevent a single agent from acting adversely against the principal.
On the other hand, having two people make decisions can lead to instances when the agents cannot agree and so important decision making is delayed or even in a deadlock.
To avoid deadlocks or tie decisions, the principal can state in the power of attorney in which instance the agents may act independently from another and those instances when decisions must absolutely be joint.
For instance, financial decisions on matters having a value of less than $1,000 may be done by each agent individually and those above $1,000 must be done jointe.
Agent Legal Powers
From a legal perspective, a dual power of attorney is the exact same thing as a standard power of attorney naming a single person to act on behalf of the principal.
The only difference between a dual power of attorney and a single power of attorney is that there are two agents in one and a single agent in the other.
The powers that may be granted by a principal to an agent can vary from one PoA to another.
Generally, here are the common types of powers granted to agents under a dual power of attorney:
- Ability to make banking transactions
- Pay bills
- Maintain properties and assets
- Dispose or convey title to a property
- Enter into contracts
- Take loans or discharge debt
- Buy or sell property
- Make investment decisions
- Make medical decisions
- Make medical treatment decisions
Agent Legal Duties
Joint agents are legally required to make decisions in the best interest of the principal appointing them.
Since they act jointly, they must both agree on the decisions made on behalf of the principal for that decision to be executed or implemented.
As agents, they are legally held responsible for their acts and conduct and must ensure they act within the parameters of their rights and powers granted to them under the PoA.
In the event the power of attorney allows a joint agent to act independently from the other, in general, both agents remain legally responsible towards the principal.
For example, if one agent has the power to make financial decisions independently from the other if the value is less than $1,000 and he or she incurs unjustifiable expenses totaling $5,000 in the course of a few weeks or months, that can engage both agent’s responsibility.
If one agent is incurring unjustifiable expenses, the other agent must act to prevent further costs or losses to the principal.
In essence, both agents are legally liable for the actions and conduct of one another and must observe their fiduciary duties.
Since both agents are jointly and severally liable for one another’s conduct, one’s breach of fiduciary duties can trigger the other agent’s legal liability.
Dual Power of Attorney Definition
To define a dual power of attorney, it’s worth defining the term “power of attorney”.
According to Investopedia, a power of attorney is defined as:
Power of attorney (POA) is a legal authorization that gives a designated person, termed the agent or attorney-in-fact, the power to act for another person, known as the principal.
In essence, a power of attorney is a legal document giving a person or individuals the right and power to act for another.
Now, a dual power of attorney can be defined as a legal document giving two individuals the right and power to act for another.
Dual Power of Attorney Form
A dual power of attorney form is a template or form that a principal can use to appoint two agents.
There are many online sites offering you either free templates or templates for a fee.
It’s important that both the principal and agents understand the consequences of filling out a dual power of attorney form.
The principal giving power of attorney should consult with an attorney to understand the extent of power that he or she is giving to the agents under the dual PoA form.
Similarly, the named agents should understand the extent of their rights and obligations so they can act on behalf of the principal adequately and not be exposed to undesirable legal liability or risk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s look at common questions related to dual power of attorney.
Can You Have A Dual Power of Attorney
In general, you can have a dual power of attorney in most jurisdictions.
To ensure that you can have a dual power of attorney, you must ensure that the local laws pursuant to which the dual power of attorney is issued allow for the joint appointment of agents.
In most cases, you should be fine but you’ll need to speak to a qualified legal professional to confirm.
What Is The Difference Between Power of Attorney And Dual Power of Attorney
A power of attorney and a dual power of attorney are the same from a legal perspective.
Both the power of attorney and a dual power of attorney refer to a legal document where one person legally authorizes another to make various types of decisions on his or her behalf.
The only difference between a power of attorney and a “dual” power of attorney is that the first one does not specify how many agents are appointed (generally one agent is appointed) and the other specifies that two agents are appointed.
This means that if only one agent was appointed under the power of attorney, then only that person can act on behalf of the principal.
On the other hand, under a dual power of attorney, there are two agents appointed and they must jointly make decisions for the principal.
What Are The Different Types of Power of Attorney
In general, there are four different types of power of attorney each having a different scope or purpose.
You have the general power of attorney where the agent is given very broad powers and can make essentially any decisions for the principal.
A durable power of attorney where the power of attorney remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated.
Then you have special or limited power of attorney where the agent is given very specific powers.
Finally, you have a springing durable power of attorney that becomes effective when certain specific events happen (like the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated).
What Is A Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a type of power of attorney that is “durable” and will remain in effect until the principal revokes it or dies.
Typically, a standard power of attorney is terminated when the principal revokes it, becomes incapacitated, or dies.
On the other hand, the durable power of attorney will remain in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated.
What Is A Dual Power of Attorney Takeaways
So what is the legal definition of Dual Power of Attorney?
A “dual power of attorney” is a legal document where one person authorizes two other individuals to make decisions and act on his or her behalf.
The person giving the power to another is called the “principal” whereas those who are granted the power to make decisions are the “attorneys-in-fact” or “agents”.
A dual power of attorney can grant broad or limited powers to the agents, such as:
- Make decisions about the real estate property
- Make decisions about the principal’s investments and assets
- Make medical decisions
The main objective of a dual power of attorney is to allow the agents to make decisions on behalf of the principal when the principal cannot be there to make the decisions.
In addition, by having two agents, the decisions made on behalf of the principal will need to be jointly agreed upon before they can be executed.
Just like instances when a single person is named as an attorney, the joint agents must act in the best interest of their principal (also called fiduciary duty).
If you are looking to authorize others to make decisions for you under a Dual PoA, it may be worth it to consult with a lawyer or legal professional for advice so you can understand your legal rights and obligations.
I hope I was able to answer your question related to what is a dual power of attorney and how it works.
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