Can I Appoint More Than one Person as My Agent?

By. Jason R. Ebacher, Esq. 

One of the toughest decisions my clients have when thinking about their wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies and other estate documents is deciding whom to appoint as their agent within those documents.

The agent (or executor or personal representative in a will) is the person who acts on your behalf in the event you are unable. For instance, in a power of attorney, the agent will be able to do your banking, file tax returns, hire people to take care of you and even sell your house (if appropriate and if allowed by the document).  

Clients, when making the decision of whom to appoint, often want to appoint two children as joint agents so that things are “equal” between the two. If this is the case, I often advise my clients to think about this some more as this decision should have nothing to do with someone’s feelings being hurt. Picking someone you trust to follow your wishes—if you cannot—should be the only reason why you would select someone as an agent.  

When speaking to clients about this topic, I often refer to one of my first clients. For purposes of this article, I’ll refer to her as Helen. Helen had two adult children, James and Janice. 

An Example of an Agent:

I remember asking Helen who she wanted to appoint as her executor, which is now referred to as a personal representative in Massachusetts. She immediately stated James and then Janice as the backup. After making the same selection for her power of attorney, I then asked her who she wanted to appoint as her health care proxy. 

After a long pause, she said, “I have to pick Janice.” 

Sensing the apprehension in her tone, I ask why she felt she needed to select Janice to which she replied, “because she will be upset if I don’t pick her for something.” 

Feeling the need to inquire further, I asked if she thought Janice was capable of making an important health care decision such as the removal of life support? 

Helen, replied, “oh no, she would keep me alive forever.” 

“What about James,” I asked? “Would he be able to make that decision?” 

“Absolutely,” Helen replied, “he is cool as a cucumber. He will do whatever I ask him to do.” 

As Helen’s attorney, I informed her that she could select whomever she wanted but my advice would be to pick James as her health care proxy as he seems best suited to carry out her wishes. Fortunately, Helen took my advice. 

What about selecting joint agents? If this is your plan, please ask yourself the following questions:  

  • Why do I want to appoint joint agents? Am I trying to make things even? Do I not fully trust one of the people and want to have a checks and balance system in place? 
  • Have I talked to the individuals involved to see if they want to serve jointly with each other? 
  • Do these two people get along and think along the same lines? 
  • What happens if they cannot agree on a decision?   

Part of the work that I do with my clients is helping them sort through issues like these so that their estate documents—and the agents appointed—will serve them well in a crisis. 

For further assistance in whom you would like to select as your agents, please contact our office at: (978) 269-4485 or email me at: jebacher@ebacherlaw.com and we will be happy to help.  

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Leslie Russell
Leslie Russell
00:41 09 Aug 21
I can not thank Jason enough for his help. His work has given me peace of mind during a time where caring for a loved one is not easy. I really appreciate his temperament and legal ease.
Karen Shuman
Karen Shuman
18:26 06 Aug 21
My experience with Attorney Jason R. Ebacher was excellent from the very first phone call. Jason is professional above all else in addition to being friendly, compassionate, helpful and knowledgeable. He provided me with enough information and guidance to enable me to make solid choices with regard to my estate planning. I highly recommend Jason and his team.
Kristen Wilson
Kristen Wilson
15:25 05 Aug 21
Attorney Jason Ebacher is professional, knowledgeable, and kind. He is always readily available to answer any questions. I highly recommend Jason to anyone.
Essential Balance Wellness
Essential Balance Wellness
13:46 05 Aug 21
You dont know what tomorrow will bring. The only way to make sure the people you love are taken care of, is to make a plan....while your healthy and in good sound mind. There TRULY is "peace of mind in proper planning"
Angie Vargas
Angie Vargas
17:53 17 Mar 21
Jason is a trusted volunteer with our non-profit legal aid organization, where he provides quality pro bono estate planning assistance to some of our clients and is always willing to go the extra mile. During the pandemic, he has remain committed to this work and we greatly appreciate him.
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