When to Revoke a Power of Attorney for Finances

If you execute a power of attorney for finances document, you can revoke or cancel it at any time as long as you are mentally competent to do so. This means that you must understand the consequences of signing the revocation. You probably will not encounter any problems if you revoke a power of attorney that has not been given effect. However, a court proceeding may be necessary if you revoke a springing power of attorney that has been given effect (i.e., doctors have declared you to be incapacitated) and your attorney-in-fact refuses to accept that the revocation is valid.

Be aware that if you or a loved one challenge the actions of your attorney-in-fact, a conservator might be appointed. This can happen if a court determines that you were not of sound mind when you signed the document or that you failed to comply with the procedure required in your state for creating a valid power of attorney document. In some states, appointment of a conservator operates to automatically revoke a durable power of attorney such that the conservator becomes solely responsible for your financial matters. In other states, an appointed conservator has the authority to revoke the power of attorney if she does not agree with the way that the attorney-in-fact is managing your financial affairs.

If you want to modify a durable power of attorney, do not make changes on the document itself because doing so may cast suspicion on the genuineness of the entire document. In fact, the best way to amend is to revoke the document and create a new power of attorney.

Losing your original power of attorney document is another instance in which you should formally revoke the document and create a new one. This may help lessen confusion in the event that the lost document is later found.

It is also best to revoke the document and create a new power of attorney if you move to another state. If you do not create a new document, your attorney-in-fact may encounter problems getting the power of attorney accepted as valid.

If you created a power of attorney document naming your spouse as your attorney-in-fact and then divorce, you should revoke the document and create a new one. In some states, your spouse's designation as attorney-in-fact is immediately terminated when you divorce and the position is filled by your alternate. If you did not pick an alternate, your power of attorney ends. Of course, you can create a new power of attorney that does not refer to your ex-spouse and that allows you to name another alternate.

Although a power of attorney does not expire, the springing type should be reviewed every so often. If the document was signed many years before it takes effect, your attorney-in-fact may have trouble getting it accepted. Formal revocation and creation of a new power of attorney document is important if your circumstances have significantly changed, such as if the person you chose as your attorney-in-fact becomes ill or moves a long way away.

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