5 Reasons to Revoke a Power of Attorney

5 Reasons to Revoke a Power of Attorney

by Brette Sember, J.D., November 2018

A power of attorney (POA) gives someone else, called your agent, the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. These legal documents are useful in case of illness or incapacitation and also for situations where you might be out of the country or otherwise unreachable. If you use a durable power of attorney, it remains in effect from the moment you sign it until you revoke it or you die. There are situations in which you may need to revoke the POA, including changing your mind or the agent you've chosen being unavailable.

"Power of Attorney" document under magnifying glass

Reasons to Revoke a Power of Attorney

There are a variety of instances in which you might want or need to revoke a power of attorney you have created. The following are some of the most common.

  1. Change of mind. You might decide you no longer trust the agent you've selected or you just want to choose someone else. You can also decide you just don't need a power of attorney at all.
  2. Change in relationship. It's common to choose a family member, such as a spouse, as your agent, but if you get divorced, you may want to revoke the document.
  3. Death. If the person you selected as your agent dies, you need to revoke the power of attorney and select someone else.
  4. Incapacity. If the person you've selected to be your agent is no longer mentally competent to make decisions, you need to perform a revocation and choose someone else.
  5. Unavailability. If the person you've selected to act on your behalf has moved far away or is on an extended trip, you may want to select someone who is more readily available.

How to Revoke a Power of Attorney

There are three ways to revoke a power of attorney, all of which require that you be mentally competent.

  1. In writing. You can create a written revocation stating you are revoking the power of attorney created on X date naming Jane Doe as your agent. Sign it in front of a notary and give a copy to anyone you provided with the original POA, including the agent and any financial institutions. Request that they return their copy of the previous power of attorney. If you recorded the power of attorney with your county clerk, you need to file a copy of the revocation with them as well. Note that you cannot amend an existing power of attorney, so if wish to change a POA, you need to revoke it and create a new one.
  2. Destroying it. If you created a power of attorney but never gave a copy to anyone and didn't tell the agent you created it, you can destroy it instead of writing a revocation.
  3. Creating a new one. Another way to revoke a power of attorney is to create a new power of attorney that states that you revoke any previous POAs you have made. You can create your own using a state form or you can get assistance from an online service provide.

Revoking your power of attorney is your right at any time. If you choose to revoke a power of attorney, it's important you do so correctly so that it is deemed legal invalid.