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How to Select a Power of Attorney

What is power of attorney?

Orignal Agents

You, as a principle, can select an "Agent" to step into your shoes in the event of your incapacity. Your Agent is granted authority to act for you as a principal under a power of attorney. The term "Agent" also includes the terms original agents, coagents, successor agent, and a person to which an agent's authority is delegated.


You may designate in your power of attorney two or more persons to act as coagents.

This is typically not recommended because, unless the power of attorney states otherwise, all coagents must exercise their authority jointly. That may mean that banks and hospitals may need both coagents signatures to actually act jointly.

Provided, however, that a coagent may delegate that coagent's authority to another coagent.

You may also designate one or more successor agents to act if an agent resigns, dies, becomes incapacitated, is not qualified to serve, or declines to serve.

You, as a principal, may grant authority to designate one or more successor agents to an agent or other person designated by name, office, or function. However, that does not seem as preferable in most circumstances, compared to the principle simply naming agents in succession.

Successor agents

Unless the power of attorney otherwise provides, a successor agent: (a) Has the same authority as that granted to the original agent; and (b) May not act until all predecessor agents have resigned, died, become incapacitated, are no longer qualified to serve, or have declined to serve.


Agents must be aware of liabilities that could stem from the acts of their coagents.

(3) Except as otherwise provided in the power of attorney and subsection (4) of this section, an agent that does not participate in or conceal a breach of fiduciary duty committed by another agent, including a predecessor agent, is not liable for the actions of the other agent.

(4) An agent that has actual knowledge of a breach or imminent breach of fiduciary duty by another agent shall notify the principal and, if the principal is incapacitated, take any action reasonably appropriate in the circumstances to safeguard the principal's best interest. An agent that fails to notify the principal or take action as required by this subsection is liable for the reasonably foreseeable damages that could have been avoided if the agent had notified the principal or taken such action. RCW 11.125.110.

Power of Attorney for Your Children

Starting June 11, 2020, you can temporarily give someone your powers regarding care, custody, and/or property of your children. With the change in the law, you can now give someone power of attorney when you will not be available or able to provide care for any child under the age of 18 for whom you are legally responsible. Your POA can go for as little as one day to as long as 24 months. Read Power of Attorney for Parents to learn more.

*Your parental rights do not end by signing a power of attorney.

As always speak to an attorney before appointing your agent(s). Thanks!


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