What is power of attorney?
This is a valid and legal document and once signed, the person appointed power of attorney will have the legal right to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf.
Creating a power of attorney
When creating a power of attorney, you need to specify various things such as:
- Who will be appointed as the attorney: The appointment of power of attorney is its main feature. You can have one sole person be responsible or choose multiple attorneys. If you do appoint two attorneys, you’ll have to specify whether the attorneys need to make decisions jointly or individually.
- When will the power of attorney come into effect: You can specify that the attorney’s powers will start as soon as the document has been created and signed or you can specify a later date when the power of the attorney will begin. If you don’t choose a specific date, you can state that power of attorney will only begin if you lose mental capacity and remain mentally incompetent for a set period — you can specify any such event for the power of your attorney to start.
- Specifying the powers of the attorney: You can keep it broad to include all types of financial and legal decisions or you can mention only some specific decisions that may be taken by your attorney. In addition to specifying the powers of your attorney, you may also choose to limit how power can be exercised.
Once you have filled out the power of attorney form, you should go over it with your lawyer and then have it notarized to make it effective.
Can I change or cancel a power of attorney?
Yes. You have the option of changing your power of attorney to specify new terms or cancelling it altogether.
Even after a power of attorney has been created, your circumstances may change and you may not need the power of attorney any longer. You can also alter the terms of the power of attorney or appoint a new attorney if you wish.
How to cancel or change your power of attorney
To change some of the details in your power of attorney or appoint new attorneys, you’ll have to cancel the existing documents and fill out new forms for a new power of attorney.
Here’s what you need to do to cancel existing documents of power of attorney:
- Legal paperwork: Fill out a formal revocation form in order to cancel any existing powers of attorney.
- Advise your attorneys that their powers have been revoked: To avoid any problems, make sure that all your attorneys have a copy stating your wishes to revoke their powers of attorney.
Once you have cancelled a power of attorney, you should make sure that you destroy all the previous power of attorney documents. Ask for any copies of the document back from your attorneys and destroy those too.
Reasons for changing or cancelling a power of attorney
You may want to change or cancel a power of attorney for several reasons — here’s a look at some of the most popular reasons:
- Appointing a new power of attorney. If your relationship with your present attorney has changed and you no longer trust your attorney to act in your best interests, or you are no longer close to your attorney and uncomfortable sharing your thoughts with them, you may want to appoint a new attorney.
- There’s someone more suitable. Another reason you may want to appoint a new attorney is because you’ve found another person who you’d rather make important decisions on your behalf.
- Your present attorney isn’t qualified anymore. Often your health, lifestyle or financial circumstances may change and you may find that your attorney is no longer capable of handling your affairs. For example, if business decisions have changed from simple to extremely complex, your power of attorney may no longer be qualified to make the complex financial decisions that your business demands.
- Your attorney is never available. Sometimes you may end up appointing an attorney who may not be available because he travels a lot or because he no longer lives in your city. Whatever the reason for the unavailability of your attorney, it’s a valid cause to cancel or change your power of attorney.
- Having multiple attorneys and one dies. Many people choose to appoint more than one attorney for their financial decisions and also specify that both the attorneys have to take all decisions jointly. In such situations if one of the attorneys dies, then you may need to appoint a new attorney in their place or cancel the power of attorney document altogether.
However, if you’re mentally unfit or incompetent, then you do not have the power to cancel your powers of attorney. But, if the courts determine that your attorney isn’t acting in your best interest, then they have the authority to cancel any powers of attorney.