How to Change Power of Attorney

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

How to Change Power of Attorney

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

When you create a power of attorney, or POA, you give someone else legal authority to act on your behalf and manage your financial affairs. They are common estate planning tools, but they have other uses as well, such as authorizing someone to handle a specific transaction in your absence. Sometimes, though, these documents need to be changed or updated to better address changing circumstances.

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Changing a Power of Attorney

After creating a POA, you may need to make changes to it. Whether you change your mind about the person to whom you gave the authority, called the agent, or you want to change the scope of authority granted under the form, you can revoke the existing document and create a new one.

1. Decide what changes you want to make.

If you know you want to change your agent or make another specific change to your power of attorney, review the entire document to determine whether it makes sense to make additional changes. Changing your agent may mean you want to also change the types of transactions you want your agent to handle.

Talk to the person(s) you want to name as your agent(s) to be sure they understand their potential responsibilities and are willing to act on your behalf.

2. Prepare a new power of attorney.

When you know what you want to change, create a new power of attorney. Make sure the form you use complies with your state's laws, as powers of attorney are state-specific.

Identify the person or people you want as your agent(s), specify which types of transactions you are authorizing, indicate whether the POA is durable or nondurable, document whether you want periodic accounting from your agent, and answer any other questions your state's form includes. When you are ready to sign your new POA, follow your state's requirements for doing so. In most states, you need a notary public's signature and stamp or seal on the form.

3. Revoke the previous power of attorney.

Revoking your old power of attorney officially through a separate, written notice of revocation will help ensure your previous agent cannot use that document anymore.

Your notice of revocation should meet your state's statutory requirements. Generally, this means the revocation document must include your name, identify the date of your previous POA, identify the person or people who were named as agent(s) in it, and state that the named person(s) no longer have authority to act under that document. Sign the notice of revocation in the presence of a notary public.

4. Notify interested parties of the revocation and new power of attorney.

Finally, give or mail the notice of revocation to the previous agent(s) and to any bank, credit union, investment firm, or other institution that had a copy of the old power of attorney form. Provide the new POA to your financial institutions and to your new agent(s). If you filed the old one with your county recorder's office for real estate transaction, you should also file the revocation and the new one.

It is important to keep your power of attorney up-to-date. An attorney licensed in your state may be able to help you throughout the process. This process will ensure that you are allowing the correct agent to act on your behalf.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.