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Estate Planning: When dealing with POAs, keep it simple
Estate planning

Estate Planning: When dealing with POAs, keep it simple


Q: Can you split up powers in a power of attorney? Can my son be authorized to deal with some bank accounts and a different son be on the other ones? Can the medical powers still be given to both of them if I split up the banking powers?

A: Yes, you can grant different powers to your children in a Power of Attorney. However, it might be easier to use separate documents rather than one.

POAs come in all shapes and sizes. Sure, most of the durable ones probably look pretty similar but they can be customized by a savvy attorney.

Let’s start with the medical powers. The easiest way to grant health care powers to both of your children is to use a Healthcare Representative Designation (sometimes referred to as the medical POA).

Using a separate document for the health care powers is an easy way to split those types of decisions away from the financial powers. Sure, it’s another document, but it’s clean and easy to utilize. It’s also easy for the parties that are on the receiving end of the documents to understand.

Although one POA could be utilized, I suggest using multiple limited powers of attorney specifically setting out each child’s authority. For example, you can grant Timmy the authority access and write checks against your checking account and grant Tommy the authority to direct your CDs.

You can then use a general durable POA, excepting the powers that you granted to Timmy and Tommy, to make sure that you grant the authority to control your other assets and accounts to both of them.

Another option might be to contact the banks directly and ask if they have their own limited POA that you can execute to allow your children to become signatories on the respective accounts. You should make sure that you don’t add their names to the accounts so that they become co-owners. Otherwise all the risks that come with joint ownership may arise.

The simple answer to your question is yes, a POA could probably be used, but I prefer to use separate limited POAs. Remember, someone is going to have look at this document and interpret its meaning. The easier it is to understand, the less likely there will be problems.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know to that when drafting a plan, it’s usually best to follow the KISS principle … Keep It Simple Stupid.

Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to 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.


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