Can Two Siblings Have Power Of Attorney? How Joint and Successor POA Works


Having to make difficult medical and financial decisions for an aging parent can be a heavy burden to bear alone. That’s why many adult children choose to share power of attorney (POA) responsibilities with a sibling. 

But is it possible for two siblings to legally share POA duties? The short answer is yes. There are a couple of different ways siblings can structure a joint POA arrangement.

In this blog post, we’ll explain how joint and successor POA works when splitting duties between siblings. You’ll learn the pros and cons of each approach, plus tips for avoiding conflicts down the road. 

What Exactly is Power of Attorney?

Power of attorney is a legal document that lets you (the “principal”) choose someone else (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to make financial, legal, and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make those decisions yourself.

There are a few different types of power of attorney:

  • General power of attorney – Allows your agent to make financial and legal decisions for you. This power ends if you become incapacitated.
  • Durable power of attorney – Remains valid even if you lose capacity. This is used for financial and legal decisions.
  • Healthcare power of attorney – Allows your agent to make healthcare choices for you if you cannot make them yourself. Also called a healthcare proxy.
  • Springing power of attorney – Only takes effect once you become incapacitated.

The person you appoint as your power of attorney agent should be someone you trust completely – usually a spouse, adult child, or close friend. They have a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests.

Powers of attorney must be notarized or witnessed to be legally valid. As the principal, you must be of sound mind when creating the document.

Can Two Siblings Have Joint Power of Attorney in North Carolina?

Yes, two siblings can share power of attorney in North Carolina.

There are two main ways to structure joint power of attorney:

  • Co-Agent or Joint Agent POA — With this arrangement, both siblings are appointed together as co-agents and must act jointly. All decisions and transactions require approval from both agents. Both siblings’ signatures are needed on all documents. This ensures checks and balances but can also lead to disputes if the agents disagree.
  • Concurrent or Independent Agent POA — Here, each sibling is appointed separately as an independent agent. They can make decisions without approval from the other agent. This allows flexibility but less oversight between the siblings.

Whichever option you choose, the power of attorney document should clearly specify whether your agents can act jointly or independently.

Should You Have a Successor POA Instead?

Rather than naming two siblings as co-agents, another option is to appoint siblings as successor agents. This way, you name one person as your primary agent under the power of attorney, and then the other is named as your successor or alternate agent.

The successor agent can only act if the primary agent resigns, dies, or becomes incapacitated. This minimizes confusion by ensuring only one sibling is responsible for decisions at a time. It also designates a clear line of succession if the first agent cannot serve. The downside is the successor has no power unless the primary agent is unavailable.

The Pros and Cons of Appointing Co-Agents

Appointing multiple siblings as your power of attorney agents has some advantages but also poses risks.

Some advantages include:

  • Checks and balances – With co-agents, there is oversight to prevent abuse or fraud.
  • Shared responsibilities – Divvying up duties can prevent one sibling from being overburdened.
  • Different perspectives – Siblings may offer different views on financial or healthcare choices.
  • Family harmony – Involving all siblings can prevent jealousy and discord.

On the other hand, it can have its downsides, like:

  • Disputes – Siblings may disagree on decisions, leading to guardianship proceedings.
  • Delays – Needing consensus from all agents can slow down urgent decisions.
  • Fraud – More agents mean more people accessing your finances.
  • Confusion – Unclear division of duties can cause chaos and mix-ups.
  • Complexity – It is harder to monitor many different agents.

As you can see, joint POA for siblings has advantages and disadvantages. Proper planning is key to making it work smoothly.

How to Minimize Disputes Among Siblings With POA

Giving power of attorney to multiple siblings has risks – especially the potential for disputes over your care and finances. 

Here are some tips to help avoid conflicts:

  1. Designate one primary agent – Appoint siblings as successor agents instead of co-agents.
  2. Outline specific duties – Document which sibling handles what responsibilities.
  3. Require regular reports – Demand all agents provide status updates.
  4. Involve a neutral third party – Name a trusted friend to mediate disputes.
  5. Use professional advisors – Require oversight from your estate planning lawyer or accountant.
  6. Plan for mediation – Mandate mediation if conflicts arise.
  7. Be proactive – Discuss expectations openly with your agents.
  8. Consult an elder law attorney – Seek advice to ensure your POA avoids issues.

With thoughtful planning, it is possible for siblings to work together effectively as power of attorney agents. But joint POA does require extra care to minimize family discord.

Consult a Lawyer When Naming Multiple Agents

While legally permitted in North Carolina, granting power of attorney to two or more siblings has risks. The potential for disputes, delays, fraud, and confusion is real.

That said, with clear communication and careful POA drafting, sibling agents can be named successfully. 

Defining specific roles and duties is key to minimizing conflict. Given the complexities involved, it’s wise to consult an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney at Cary Estate Planning before naming multiple siblings as your agents. Their team can help ensure your power of attorney agreement is structured optimally while avoiding pitfalls.