Compliance Question of the Week

Can an attorney in fact with a general power of attorney (POA) that allows them to open and close accounts, run transactions, etc., add themselves as a joint owner on an account of the principal?

An attorney in fact with a general POA cannot add him or herself as a joint owner on an account owned by the principal. By adding him or herself, the attorney in fact would be changing the ownership of the funds and effectively giving him or herself a gift. This generally is not allowed with a POA.

A POA also does not have the power to change the testamentary disposition of property, which is what happens to it when the principal dies. By adding him or herself to a joint account, frequently the POA has now put him or herself in the position of being the POD beneficiary.

In Oregon, an attorney in fact may make changes to the beneficiary and account ownership of the principle if the Uniform Power of Attorney document expressly grants them that power. If there is no express granting of the power, then they cannot do that.

Related Links

RCW 11.94.050
Uniform Power of Attorney


Questions? Contact the Compliance Hotline: 1.800.546.4465,

Posted in Compliance News.