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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.

  1. 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.
  2. Advise your attorneys that their powers have been revoked.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.
  3. 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.

Who is most likely to be researching cancelling a power of attorney?

Finder data suggests that women aged 35-44 are most likely to be researching this topic.

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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.

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.

Bottom line

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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Written by

Katia Iervasi

Katia Iervasi is a lead writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet and a former editor at Finder, specializing in insurance. Her writing and analysis on life, disability and health insurance has been featured in The Washington Post, Forbes, Yahoo, Entrepreneur, Best Company and FT Advisor. She holds a BA in communication from Australia's Griffith University. See full profile

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12 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    BettyJuly 20, 2019

    My mother is 91 and Lives in BC. My sisters are planning to take her to change her power of attorney. Taking it away from my other sister and from me. Can we legally prevent this?

      Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoJuly 22, 2019

      Hi Betty,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Changing a power of attorney document is legal for as long as the person in the document agrees to it. If you deem there is a need to put a halt on this event, it would be best to speak amicably with your family and seek advice from a legal adviser if needed.

      Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.


    Default Gravatar
    TNovember 16, 2018

    I have a financial power of attorney. What if they won’t sign the cancellation of it?

      Default Gravatar
      AshNovember 17, 2018

      Hi T,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      To cancel the Power of Attorney, you should make a notice of cancellation informing your attorney/s of the revocation and the reason for it. As long as you are aware of the action that you will take, your attorneys should not deny the cancellation. You should destroy all documents as well as the copies with your attorneys that is pertaining to the Power of Attorney so they cannot use it in the future after the cancellation.

      I hope this helps.

      Please do not hesitate to reach out again to us if you have additional questions.


    Default Gravatar
    LizOctober 18, 2018

    My 94 years old Father wants to change his Power of Attorney on his will. does he need to see his Lawyer or can paperwork be drawn up and notarized ?

      Default Gravatar
      AshOctober 20, 2018

      Hello Liz,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      Your Father still needs to see his Lawyer and advise him of the changes in his Power of Attorney, it is to avoid any complications in the future.

      I hope this helps.

      Please do not hesitate to reach out again to us if you have additional questions that you need assistance with.


    Default Gravatar
    SmithaSeptember 17, 2018

    Hi, we are 5 bothers, but can I alone revok the power of attorney ?

      johnbasanesSeptember 18, 2018Finder

      Hi Smitha,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      Depending on what is stated in the power of attorney, you may be able to revoke it on your own. You may need to revisit it to check if you can do it on your own or need the joint approval from your brothers to have the power of attorney revoked. Hope this helps!


    Default Gravatar
    KJJuly 9, 2018

    If the Durable Power of Attorney Agent has deceased, how can another Agent be appointed?

      JoshuaJuly 17, 2018Finder

      Hi KJ,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      To appoint another agent, you can simply cancel your existing POA and then create another one. Please refer to the steps mentioned above to know how to do this.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


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