Can two siblings share financial and medical power of attorney for a parent…

Can two siblings share financial and medical power of attorney for a parent residing in the state of Ohio, one sibling resides in Ohio and one 5 hours away in Pennsylvania. If so what are the advantages vs. the dissadvantages. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “Can two siblings share financial and medical power of attorney for a parent…

  1. The short answer to your questions is “probably yes, but not recommended.”

    The Ohio statutes which govern financial / general durable powers of attorney, as well as health care powers of attorney, do not specifically prevent 2 agents (children) from serving simultaneously as agents for one principal (the parent).

    Regarding the health care power, while the statute is less than clear, one could make the case that the statute contemplates only one agent actually serving at any particular point in time, with alternate agents available to step in if the primary agent is unavailable. In fact, the standardized, pre-printed health care power of attorney forms are set up in this manner, with a primary agent and alternate agents. Of course, some attorneys use a customized form, which is also valid, and could be set up to have more than one acting agent.

    Because use of the health care power of attorney first requires the principal to be unable to make their own health care decisions, it can be very problematic if 2 agents are acting for the principal and those 2 agents then disagree about how to proceed, or what treatment the principal should or should not have. Physician’s will often reject both agent’s instructions and in such a situation, the Probate Court must become involved, and possibly the need for Guardianship arises. Of course, this is exactly what one tries to avoid by having the health care power of attorney in the first instance.

    In comparison to the health care power of attorney, it is much more common to see 2 separate agents, or 2 co-agents, on the general / financial powers of attorney. Again, in my experience, this can lead to more problems that it solves. In addition to the possibility for the 2 agents to disagree about how best to handle the principal’s financial matters, you are likely to encounter resistance from third parties such as banks, brokers, and insurance companies, in that they will often require both agents to sign for every transaction, even though Ohio law and the power of attorney document can enable either of the agents to act unilaterally. This can become time consuming and problematic if the agents live in different states.

    For these reasons, in my experience, it is preferable to have only one agent acting at any point in time, and I strongly advise client’s of this whenever we draft these documents. The only advantage I can think of would be the transparency to prevent mistrust between the agents, but this could probably be addressed in other ways. The bottom line though, is that the parent needs to sit down with an experienced estate planning lawyer and have their particular situation reviewed, and at the end of the day, they would make the decision on how they want their documents to be set up. Best of luck to you and your family.

    Anthony Rifici
    Rifici Law Office
    28025 Clemens Road, Suite 4
    Westlake, OH 44145

  2. I agree with the previous answer. It is legally possible to do it but probably not recommended. If both siblings are named they have to agree on every action and they will both need to sign any financial paperwork, checks etc. With one sibling out of state this could be a real problem.

    You really need to look at the family sitaution and decide what is the best way to acocmplish your parents goals.

    Elizabeth Schmitz
    Elizabeth S. Schmitz Attorney at Law
    1900 Polaris Parkway Suite 450
    Columbus, OH 43240

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