Powers of attorney are popular inclusions in modern Virginia estate plans. These designations help to protect adults from involuntary guardianship and financial hardship in the wake of incapacitation due to severe injury or illness. By allowing someone to act on behalf of its creator, a power of attorney helps to ensure that someone whom the creator of the designation trusts is empowered to act in their interests in the event that the creator can no longer advocate for themselves.
The choice of who to name as the agent or attorney-in-fact handling someone’s affairs is a crucial one. Some testators will invest many hours of time into the decision of who to name as their agent. Others will speed up the process by deciding to name two or possibly even more people to share the authority granted in a power of attorney. Virginia law permits testators to name co-agents in their powers of attorney. These are a few of the reasons why some people choose to split the authority transferred into power of attorney or named secondary candidates instead of having a single individual act as their agent.
They worry about ulterior motives
Appointing the wrong person might mean that someone with questionable priorities has access to someone’s financial accounts or control over their healthcare choices. People can both abuse the authority granted to them or fail to act on behalf of the incapacitated party.
If there has historically been tension in the relationship or if the person named as the agent has personal issues, like extreme debt, they might let their own needs overshadow their responsibility to the person who created the power of attorney documents. Splitting responsibility between two people reduces the likelihood of someone abusing their authority or failing to do what is necessary.
They worry about being left without support
If the agent someone names is their romantic partner or their family member, the potential exists for both parties to suffer an incapacitating accident at the same time or for the agent to die when the testator suffers their injury.
Either scenario might leave someone without an agent to act on their behalf. The choice to name two or more people as attorneys-in-fact or agents can reduce the possibility of someone not having the support they require during a medical emergency.
Learning more about how people address the risk of incapacity and their potential future needs can help people create more effective estate plans for themselves. Seeking legal guidance when adults have questions about this process can also be very helpful.