How to Revoke a Power of Attorney

As handy as a power of attorney can be, you might someday find it necessary to revoke or cancel such a document. Here’s how to do so.

A while back, we took a look at the process of setting up a power of attorney — a durable legal instrument to allow someone else to handle your personal affairs and finances when you’re incapacitated or away from home. Well, it’s just as important to know how to revoke a POA when necessary.

Whys and Wherefores

Your reason for revoking a POA may vary according to the circumstances. You may simply not need it anymore. For example, if you’ve returned from working overseas and have taken up your life again, you won’t need a POA any longer.

You may also decide that your current attorney-in-fact (that is, the person exercising the POA) is no longer suitable for the job, or that you no longer trust them. Whatever the reason, you have a legal right to revoke a POA at any time.

Starting The Process

The revocation of a POA requires a formal, signed legal document. You can find simple fill-in-the-blank forms online that you can use for the task, or you can put together your own.

At the very least, include these elements:

• Your name
• A statement that you’re of sound mind
• Your wish to revoke the existing power of attorney
• The name of your original attorney-in-fact
• The date of the original POA document

Sign and date your revocation form, and have it witnessed or acknowledged by a Notary Public.

The Next Steps

Now that you have an official revocation form for your POA in hand, make copies and send them to every person, agency, or organization that has a copy of your original POA. These may include financial institutions, attorneys, county clerk’s offices, deed registries, and any other third party with a legitimate interest.

Be sure to send everyone a copy of your new POA, too, if you decide to draft one.

Needless to say, you should definitely send a copy of the revocation form to your existing attorney-in-fact, and request that they send your old POA back to you. If they do, then destroy it. If they don’t, you’ll need to send them a certified letter informing them that you have officially revoked the old POA.

Once you’ve done all of the above, your revocation should legally go into effect.

Final Notes

Now, while you can do all this on your own, it’s best to have an attorney who specializes in such matters at least look over the paperwork and, if necessary, guide you through the process.

A power of attorney is an important legal instrument, and revoking one is a very serious legal matter; so take care with the process, and do your best to get it right the first time.