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If for any reason you decide to revoke a Power of Attorney (POA) or you need to end this document on behalf of an incapacitated family member (known as the principal) who has appointed an agent (also known as Attorney-in-Fact) there are certain steps that must be taken for it to be legally valid.

In most situations, a POA can continue until the incapacitation or death of the principal, allowing the agent to represent you in your financial or medical affairs. On occasions though, the necessity arises to take away these powers from the Attorney-in-Fact.

The process of withdrawing Power of Attorney is quite often a simple process. Yet, there are some circumstances where extra action might need to be taken.

This article looks at how to revoke a Power of Attorney and what procedures people need to follow in order to do so. It also gives an explanation on some of the most common circumstances when a principal or a concerned friend or relative may have grounds to withdraw authority from an agent.

The Process of Withdrawing Power of Attorney from an Agent

Under the terms of any Power of Attorney that’s been put into action, the principal maintains the right to withdraw the authority granted to the agent at any time. Still, there is a formal process that must be followed to make this effective.

Before starting the process of revocation, it’s sensible to first review your state procedures for this function. In most cases, this will involve contacting the agent requesting they step down and (depending on your state) signing a special revocation document in front of a notary.

To revoke your Power of Attorney you will have to follow these steps:

1. Discuss the Revocation with the Attorney-in-Fact

First of all, you should raise the subject of revocation directly with the appointed agent. You should explain why you are choosing to end the agreement between you and them as well as the next steps of the process.

By making sure they are informed you can ensure that they are fully involved in the process. It can also be essential to make them completely aware that you want them to cease their responsibilities so that they do not continue to act for you inadvertently while you are formalizing the revocation.

2. Put the Revocation in Writing

To formalize your petition to end the Power of Attorney you should state in writing your wishes to end it. This should be sent to the agent as well as any third parties who keep your POA on record.

In your letter you need to include:

  • Your name
  • A statement that you are sound of mind
  • Your desire to end the Power of Attorney
  • The date that the POA came into effect
  • The name of agent it authorized

If you have also created a new Power of Attorney to override the old one this can be attached to the letter of revocation.

3. Replace or Destroy the Now Annulled Document

At this point, you can either create a new Power of Attorney or simply destroy the documents that have been withdrawn from use.

Once the POA has been removed it’s important to make contact with any bank or institution that has a copy of your instrument on file to notify them that it is no longer valid. Be aware if you are mailing the notice of revocation, it will only be effective when it is received by the third party in question.

What to Do if the Principal Cannot Act For Themself

Things can get a little more complicated if the principal who has appointed the Power of Attorney is unavailable or incapacitated. This is normally the case if a durable POA is in effect.

In most cases, broadly following the steps above can be used to end a Power of Attorney even if the principal is incapacitated. To initiate this process a concerned family member or friend should approach the agent and send a written petition for them to step down from their position.

However, if the agent declines the request to resign as POA in a situation where the principal cannot end the Power of Attorney themselves, it may be necessary to sue the agent if they refuse to step down.

If this happens, the case will have to be brought before a judge who could decide to suspend the agent’s authority and appoint temporary guardianship to another person.

Read more: Power of attorney vs Guardianship

Common Reasons Why People Revoke a Power of Attorney

People revoke Power of Attorneys for many different reasons. However, the most common grounds to withdraw a document of this type include the following:

  • Your agent has died or become incapacitated: If your agent dies or can no longer physically or mentally act on your behalf then the POA can be revoked and another agent can take their place.
  • Your relationship with the agent has changed: In cases where the agent is the spouse of the principal and a divorce or separation occurs, it is often necessary to remove any powers of attorney.
  • You decide you no longer need a POA: The principal can change their mind about the need for their POA at any time and simply withdraw the legal instrument.
  • Your agent is no longer available: If the agent isn’t able to keep performing the responsibilities they’ve been given for any reason the Power of Attorney can be ended and another agent appointed.

Power of Attorneys are extensive documents that give another individual wide-ranging authority to act for you. However, if the right procedures are followed they can often be quite easily removed or revoked when the necessity arises.

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