It's called Agent Authorization. The one you can set up in 2 minutes only allows limited account transactions. But you can fill out a form and get it notarized with 2 witnesses for full Agent Authorization. The agent has full financial access to your taxable and IRA accounts, but not other types of accounts like individual 401Ks. The agent does not have access to your security settings, for instance, at least not by logging in, perhaps by calling in(?). So it's not full access like logging in. Not as far as I can tell, I am a full agent for 2 people. The agent gains access via the agent's own account login. Here's a list of what an agent can do, according to the application form.
• Change your address or your bank account
• Change your beneficiary designations—even
designate himself or herself as beneficiary.
• Buy, sell, and exchange Vanguard mutual funds.
• Buy, sell, and trade in stocks, bonds, and other
• Engage in margin and/or option trading.
• Obtain information on your accounts.
• Redeem your assets and have the proceeds
mailed in anyone’s name, including the agent’s.
• Transfer your assets to a new or different
• View beneficiary information online.*
• View statements online.*
• Write checks on your accounts.
• Consult with a CFP® professional about your
accounts and enter into a contract for any advice
service offered by Vanguard.
• Access all your statements and transaction
history—even from years prior to the agent’s
• Open a new brokerage account or sign a new
• Sign any tax information or reporting form
required by federal or state taxing authorities.
• Conduct all other lawful transactions on
But I guess the agent would have to be able to log into a new brokerage account? Not sure.