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How to Revoke a Power of Attorney

How to Revoke a Power of Attorney

Closeup of a lawyer writing on a document

People who establish powers of attorney may take back the authority granted to their named agents as long as they are of sound mind. An essential estate planning instrument, durable powers of attorney give named agents the ability to act as the principals’ personal representatives. The attorney-in-fact can perform certain actions and make certain decisions on the principal’s behalf. Since POAs are often created well before a need for them arises, circumstances may change, and principals may decide they no longer wish their named agents to serve in this role.

Reasons to Revoke a Power of Attorney

Numerous reasons may lead principals to revoke established powers of attorney; and provided they retain the mental capacity, principals have the right to do so. For many, changes in relationships give cause for the revocation of powers of attorney. For instance, people may get divorced after naming their spouses as their agents or events may transpire that shake their trust in those they choose to serve as their agents. Others may seek to revoke powers of attorney due to unavailability, incapacity, or the death of their named agents. Some people may no longer need another person to make decisions for them.

Methods for Revoking Powers of Attorney

Principals may revoke powers of attorney in one of three ways.

  • In writing. Principals can create a written statement revoking the power of attorney, sign it in front of a notary, and provide a copy to anyone who was provided the original POA.
  • Destroying the POA. If a power of attorney was created but the principal never provided a copy to anyone and didn’t tell the agent it was created, the document can be destroyed instead of writing a revocation.
  • Creating a new POA. A new power of attorney should state that the principal revokes any previous powers of attorney made.

Should people make the decision to take back the authority granted through a power of attorney, they must notify their former agents, and anyone who previously had or may in the future have interactions with their former agents in their capacities as personal representatives. Principals could also record the revocation with the local recorder of deeds to help ensure the recantation of all authority granted through the power of attorney. Without taking such steps, they may lack legal standing to stop a former agent or hold a former agent accountable for fraudulently acting as their representative after the revocation.

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