Q: Is it possible to give different powers to different people in a power of attorney? For example, can you make one person responsible for some financial matters and another person responsible for medical matters?
A: Without doing any research on the matter, I would say that an artfully drafted Power of Attorney (POA) could probably separate powers and give them to different individuals. I’m just not sure why you would want to do that in a single POA.
Whenever possible, I follow the KISS doctrine (Keep It Simple Stupid). Just because something is possible doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best way to handle it.
In your example you suggested giving financial powers to one individual and health care powers to another. Instead of using one document and trying to separate the powers, why not execute a POA with financial powers to one person and a Health Care Representative Designation appointing the other person your health care representative? That involves two documents but it’s neat and easy to follow. Powers are clearly separated and there shouldn’t be any confusion about who does what.
If you want to be more specific, you can utilize limited POAs. For example, you could give a limited POA to John Doe to allow him to write checks from your bank account. You could then give another limited POA to Jane Doe and allow her to deal with your IRA or investment account.
Using multiple limited POAs would allow you to grant powers to several individuals and avoid any confusion as to what authority each Attorney-in-Fact (AIF) possesses.
My concern with using one POA and trying to separate the powers out in the document is that it could lead to confusion. Do you really want someone with limited knowledge and experience with POAs interpreting your document?
Like I said, I’m a firm believer in the KISS doctrine. If you can accomplish the same thing with less confusion why not do it?
Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at www.nwi.com. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.