Sometimes, the person you chose as power of attorney isn't a good fit for the job anymore. Your power of attorney isn't set in stone—you can revoke it at any time, and you don't need to give a reason.
Because situations and relationships change, it's a good idea to review your financial and healthcare powers of attorney every few years, to make sure your estate planning stays up to date. Here are some situations in which you should consider canceling your current power of attorney and signing a new one.
1. Relationship changes
Chances are, your power of attorney appoints a relative or close friend to act as your agent. But your relationship may be very different now than it was when you signed your power of attorney. People get divorced, they grow apart, and they have disagreements that can't be resolved. Your agent should be someone you can trust to act in your best interest. If the person you originally chose doesn't fit that description anymore, you can revoke the power of attorney and sign a new one.
2. Death or incapacity
A person must be alive and have mental capacity to act as a power of attorney. As a practical matter, this means the person you've named should be able to manage finances, make decisions, and understand the consequences of those decisions. Dementia, mental and physical illness, substance abuse, and accidents are just some of the things that can affect a person's mental capacity. If you don't think the person you originally chose is up to the job anymore, or if they've passed away, it's time to revoke your power of attorney.
3. Availability concerns
Consider whether your agent is truly available to step into the role if needed. For example, it may be important to have an agent who lives in the same city or state as you, so they can be available for health issues or to handle personal business. If your agent has moved overseas, it may be time to cancel the power of attorney. Similarly, you might not want an agent who travels often or has a personal situation that would make it difficult to handle the job of power of attorney.
4. Your agent asks you to
Sometimes, the person you've appointed decides they don't want to be your agent anymore. You don't want someone managing your affairs or making decisions if they don't want to do it. The best course of action is to honor their request and revoke your power of attorney.
5. You change your mind
You don't have to provide a reason for revoking a power of attorney. That means you can cancel your current power of attorney simply because you've had second thoughts about the person you appointed as agent. Or you may decide you don't need a power of attorney. A power of attorney is your document, and it should reflect your wishes.
How to reverse power of attorney
You can revoke a power of attorney in one of three ways:
- In writing. You can sign a revoking power of attorney form. The document must comply with your state's laws, which usually means it must be signed in front of a notary.
- By destroying it. If you never gave anyone a copy of your power of attorney and never told your agent about it, you can simply shred your power of attorney and throw it away.
- By signing a new power of attorney. You can transfer power of attorney to someone else by signing a new power of attorney that says that you revoke all previous powers of attorney.
Changing your durable power of attorney is a simple and affordable process. Before you name a new agent, be sure they're willing to fill this important role. And notify your old agent of the revocation. Then you can rest assured that if your power of attorney is ever needed, you'll be in good hands.
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