What’s the difference between appointing “joint” and “joint and several”?

In the three primary instruments of estate law, that is the will, the Enduring Power of Attorney and the Appointment of Enduring Guardian, it is not uncommon in certain circumstances to appoint more than one person to the primary roles, respectively, the executor, the Attorney and the Enduring Guardian.

Other than in the case of a will where the appointment will normally be made jointly, when an appointment is made of more than one person, the person needs to decide whether those persons are appointed “jointly” or “jointly and severally”.

If an appointment is made “jointly” all the persons appointed must agree on how to exercise the power . If the appointment is “joint and several” then any of the persons appointed can exercise the power on their own.

The decision as to whether to appoint people jointly or jointly and severally is one to discuss with your solicitor. One factor might be simply a question of practicality. If one or more persons travels a lot and it’s not known whether they will be physically available to sign a necessary document then you might appoint those persons “jointly and severally”. On the other hand if you wish to impose an extra level of rigour to decisions then you might make the appointment “jointly”.