How to Relinquish Power of Attorney

By John Cromwell

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.

Step 1

Check the original power of attorney. The power of attorney defines the relationship between yourself (the agent) and the person who granted you the power of attorney (the principal), and can be quite comprehensive. If the original power of attorney provides a process for resigning as agent, follow those steps. Generally, you will be required to submit some form of written notice to the principal.

Step 2

Draft a resignation notice. Many states requires you to inform the principal in writing of your intent to resign as agent. Even if your state does not require written notice, it is a good idea to place your resignation in writing to create evidence that you resigned. When drafting the notice, refer to the original power of attorney by the date it took effect, explicitly state you are resigning and name the last day you will act as an agent.

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Step 3

Notarize the resignation notice. Some states require resignations to be notarized. If your state does not require this, you may still want to consider it because a notary provides additional evidence of your resignation and when it was completed.

Step 4

Submit the written notice to the principal, keeping a copy for yourself. If the principal is incapacitated, some states allow you to submit the notice to the person’s conservator or caregiver.

Step 5

Notify all parties you worked with on the principal's behalf -- such as banks and utility companies -- that you are no longer his agent. This is to ensure they do not expect you to take future action on the principal’s behalf. This also helps protects you from future conflicts regarding the principal.

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Do You Still Have Power of Attorney if Someone Dies?

Powers of attorney do not survive death. After death, the executor of the estate handles all financial and legal matters, according to the provisions of the will. An individual can designate power of attorney to his attorney, family member or friend and also name that same person as executor of the estate. When an individual assigns power of attorney to an agent, that agent represents him in life. When the individual names an executor of his estate in his will, that agent represents him in death. A durable power of attorney with broad authority and specific prohibitions helps protect the individual's estate during his lifetime.

How to Resign as Power of Attorney

Acting on behalf of another person because of a signed power of attorney carries legal responsibility, so you must resign if you can't or no longer want to perform the duties. An agent, or person authorized to act for another party, can typically resign without giving a reason or waiting a specific number of days. However, you should formally notify the person you're acting for, referred to as the principal, and all other involved parties to protect yourself legally.

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A power of attorney is a legal paper that allows one person to act on behalf of another person. The recipient of the authority, called an "agent" or "attorney-in-fact," can perform tasks in place of the giver of the authority, called the "principal." The end of the agent's authority depends on the type of power of attorney used and the actions of the principal.

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