How to Break a Power of Attorney

by Ciele Edwards
Notify your agent by sending him a copy of the revocation notice.

Notify your agent by sending him a copy of the revocation notice.

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Managing your money and investments properly is crucial to maintaining your financial stability. Should you become incapacitated or lose your ability to make rational decisions, your assets could be in jeopardy. Granting power of attorney to a loved one capable of making financial or health care decisions on your behalf ensures someone will be available to manage your affairs if you cannot. This individual is your “agent.” If you are of sound mind and wish to revoke your agent's privileges, you may terminate the power of attorney agreement at any time. A lawyer or online document provider can provide assistance in both drafting and revoking a power of attorney.

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Destroying the Document

State requirements vary considerably regarding the actions you must take to terminate an existing power of attorney agreement. In North Carolina, for example, if you have not yet registered the original document with the court, destroying the document terminates the arrangement. Other states, such as Alaska, require that you not only destroy the power of attorney document but also provide your former agent with a written revocation notice.

Revocation

A revocation notice is a written statement formally revoking the agent’s privileges. Most states require that you revoke a power of attorney in writing. If your state required you to file the original document at the courthouse, you must also file your revocation document at the courthouse. Providing your agent with formal notice that he no longer has authority to make financial or health care decisions for you is crucial, even if your state does not require you to provide such written notice. If your agent is not aware of the revocation, he may continue managing your affairs in good faith.

Notification

Your agent is not the only one who needs to know the power of attorney agreement is no longer in effect. Any companies, individuals, financial institutions or health care providers your agent conducted business with on your behalf also need to know. By sending a copy of the revocation notice to these individuals and companies, you ensure they will no longer permit your former agent to manage your money or medical care. If you do not send proper notification to each of them, they may continue working with your former agent – and permitting him access to your records and accounts – in good faith.

Misconceptions

Consumers sometimes believe that creating a new power of attorney agreement and filing it with the court automatically invalidates any previous agreements on file. This is often not the case. Some states, such as California, allow consumers to keep more than one power of attorney agreement on file with both documents being legally binding.