How to Break a Power of Attorney

By Ciele Edwards

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.

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.


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.

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Your agent is not the only one who needs to know the power of attorney agreement is no longer in effect.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.


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.

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What Happens If an Agent With Power of Attorney Becomes Incompetent?



Related articles

How to Relinquish Power of Attorney

Being an agent bound by a power of attorney can be a significant burden. The amount of care you must exercise while tending to another person's affairs can be time consuming and exhausting. You may be concerned that if you do not exercise due care, you can be personally liable for monetary damages. If you do not feel capable of meeting these challenges, you have a responsibility to relinquish that authority. Powers of attorney are subject to state law. As a result, the standards on how to relinquish a power of attorney may vary from state to state.

Possible Power of Attorney Complications

A power of attorney can be an effective way to delegate responsibility for managing your finances and making health-related decisions when you are no longer able or willing to make these decisions yourself. However, complications can arise from the time the POA is executed up until the point that all duties have been performed by the person you appoint.

Can a Power of Attorney Be Non-Durable & Non-Revocable at the Same Time?

A power of attorney, or POA, is a legal document that grants another person the authority to manage finances on your behalf. The person granting the authority is known as the principal while the agent, or attorney-in-fact, acts on behalf of the principal. The principal may give the agent power to perform only specific tasks, such as filing taxes, or grant broad authority to take care of all of the principal's financial matters. Because non-revocable POAs are generally reserved for business circumstances, personal POAs are rarely non-revocable.

Power of Attorney

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