A power of attorney gives one party, the "agent," the legal authority to make decisions for another party, the "principal." The principal can revoke the power of attorney for any reason, even if the original was a durable power of attorney that granted authority to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Note, however, that you may not be able to revoke the POA if you are already incapacitated. Revoking a power of attorney is a straightforward matter of executing, notarizing, filing, and serving a short legal document.
In order to revoke a power of attorney, you need to submit a document known as a revocation. This is a simple statement in which you declare the power of attorney to be null and void. You do not need to provide a justification or legal grounds; you must name the agent in the power of attorney, however; give your address and the address of the agent; and give the date of the original power of attorney document as well. You must sign the revocation in the presence of a notary public and, preferably, before a witness.
In order for the revocation to gain legal recognition in the courts or in any legal proceeding, you must file the revocation with the clerk of court in the county in which you live. You should attach a copy of the original power of attorney as well. The clerk will date and record the document and certify the filing with an official seal, then provide you with copies of the document, which you may then provide to whomever you wish via a process server.
If the original power of attorney carried an expiration date, then a revocation is not required: The POA automatically lapses on the expiration date. If an agent is formally served with a revocation, then he must cease all actions taken on your behalf or allowed to him in the original power of attorney. Formal service is recommended if you wish to protect your rights in any dispute, because an agent can always plead ignorance of the revocation if you notify him through the mail, by telephone, or by other informal means.
Once you have revoked the power of attorney, you should request that the agent return all copies of the power of attorney to you. You may also notify banks, attorneys, the IRS or any other party of your intentions by formally serving them with the revocation, or providing it via certified mail, which proves the date of delivery. Once they have received your revocation, they are legally barred from dealing with your agent by means of the original power of attorney.
Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.