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How to cancel or change your power of attorney
In most cases, you can change the person who's empowered to make decisions on your behalf.
Power of attorney (POA) is a valid and legal document and once signed, the person appointed power of attorney has the legal right to make financial, medical or legal decisions on your behalf. Following just a few steps could help you keep these documents up to date with your needs.
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 canceling it altogether.
Even after a power of attorney is created, your circumstances may change and you may not need a power of attorney any longer. You can also alter the terms of the power of attorney or appoint a new attorney if you wish.
However, if you’re mentally unfit or incompetent, then you won’t be able to cancel your power 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.
Can I change power of attorney for someone else?
Only the person who appointed the power of attorney or a court can revoke their status. It’s also important to note that a person currently acting as a power of attorney cannot transfer their authority to someone else.
Say your parent is no longer mentally sound and you want to help them get a new power of attorney. If the agent is no longer acting in the best interests of their client, you can take them to court to challenge their authority. If the court agrees, a power of attorney can be revoked, and a new guardian can be appointed.
Talk to your lawyer for help specific to your situation.
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.
- Fill out the legal paperwork. Fill out a formal revocation form to cancel any existing powers of attorney. You’ll need a revocation form template specific to your state.
- Advise your attorneys that their powers have been revoked.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. You can mail in your revocation form or a copy of the new power of attorney documentation.
- Destroy old documents. Once you have canceled a power of attorney, collect any copies of the document from your files, family members and your attorneys and shred them. Keep a copy of your new form for your records.
When to change or cancel a power of attorney
You may want to change or cancel a power of attorney for several reasons, including:
- You don’t trust your current 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, you may want to appoint a new attorney.
- You want to appoint a different power of attorney. Another reason you may want to appoint a new attorney is that 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. If your attorney travels a lot or no longer lives in your city, that’s a valid reason to revoke their powers and choose a different attorney.
- You have multiple attorneys and one dies. If your current attorney dies, you’ll need a new one. Or if you have multiple attorneys and one of them dies, you may need to appoint a new attorney in their place or cancel the power of attorney document altogether.
Get legal help for changing power of attorney
How to create a power of attorney
If you’re just now considering creating a power of attorney, you’ll 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 the power of attorney comes into effect. You can state that the attorney’s powers will start as soon as the document is signed or you can specify a later date for the power of attorney to begin. If you don’t choose a specific date, you can state that the power of attorney will only kick in if you lose mental capacity and remain mentally incompetent for a set period. In essence, you can specify any event for the power of your attorney to start.
- What the powers of the attorney will be. You can keep it broad to include all types of financial and legal decisions, or you can list 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 review it with your lawyer and then have it notarized to make it effective.
No matter the reason for your desired changes, you can update your power of attorney by following a few steps — and it starts with completing the required legal paperwork.
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