A Power of Attorney (POA) is a very robust legal document that can give individuals great control over a person’s (known as the principal) life and wellbeing. However, despite its judicial strength, there are a number of situations where someone can override a Power of Attorney once its been fully enacted.

A major worry for many people creating a Power of Attorney form is what can be done if the powers of an appointed agent need to be revoked. Fortunately, many options exist for when disputes arise or when obligations to family members or the principal aren’t met.

This article looks at the process of taking Power of Attorney away from someone acting as the agent for the principal. It also provides a quick guide to some of the most important Power of Attorney rights and limitations so you can take action if necessary.

What Types of Power of Attorney Are There?

There are 2 key types of Power of Attorney in the USA, these are as follows:

  1. Medical Power of Attorney: This form of POA allows the appointed agent to make medical decisions for the principal if they are incapacitated and unable to make these choices for themselves.
  2. Financial Power of Attorney: Both Durable Power of Attorney and General Power of Attorney are types of Financial POA. These allow the agent to control the principal’s financial and personal interests before and/or during their physical or mental incapacitation.

How to Take Power of Attorney Away from Someone

The person who appointed a Power of Attorney maintains the perpetual right to revoke the POA legal instrument. However, there can be some complications to doing so depending on the circumstances.

To formally remove a current Power of Attorney as a principal, it is necessary to send a written revocation. This should carefully state that you’re withdrawing the powers granted. You will also need to sign your cancellation and in some locations, this may have to be notarized.

When a Power of Attorney is fully revoked you can either destroy all copies of your now invalid POA or attach the revocation notice to any remaining copies. When you cancel the legal instrument you should also confirm that nobody can use the withdrawn document.

However, in the situation that a person is mentally or physically unable to express their desire to end the Power of Attorney or remove the appointed agent, then the process can be more complex.

Steps to Withdrawing Power of Attorney

There are a few steps to withdrawing a Power of Attorney from an agent acting on the principal’s behalf. These include the following actions:

  1. Speak to the Principal: If the principal has the mental or physical faculties to do so, they can remove the agent’s powers themselves.
  2. Make Contact with the Agent: If the principal cannot remove POA themselves, you should directly contact the agent in writing requesting they step down. However, if they refuse and no alternative agents are named on the Power of Attorney document you may have to petition a court to adjudicate the issue.
  3. Take the Matter to Court: If you’ve exhausted all other options, the case will need to be brought before a court. When you or your legal counsel seek court action you can request for the agent’s powers to be suspended for the duration of the case and for guardianship to be passed to another individual.

If your case must be escalated, it will be necessary to convince the presiding judge that the agent’s actions necessitate their removal. Alternatively, you and your legal team may have to prove that the principal’s wishes shouldn’t be fulfilled due to mental incapacity.

Power of Attorney Rights and Limitations

Whilst there are many things a person with Power of Attorney can do, there are always limitations.

An agent is almost always entitled to proper compensation from the principal, which is normally stipulated clearly in the original POA form. However, they are not permitted to enrich themselves via the estate of the principal.

On most Power of Attorney documents, the key limitations to an agent’s powers normally include:

  • Altering the principal’s will
  • Making decisions after the principal’s death
  • Acting outside the principal’s best interests
  • Transferring their powers of attorney to someone else

When creating a Power of Attorney document, it is always critical that you carefully consider the powers you wish to bestow and the limitations to the agent’s powers you want to set. Luckily creating a document like this with our online creation tool offers a lot of flexibility and options for doing just that.

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