Power of attorney, also commonly referred to as a POA, is a legal document which gives someone else legal authority to act on your behalf. If you have any concerns about how that authority is being used, you can revoke the POA as long as you are still of sound mind. Powers of attorney might give your agent the right to cash your checks, withdraw money from your bank accounts, pursue insurance claims or to sell your property. Many people also use powers of attorney to empower someone to take care of their affairs, including health care options, should they become incapacitated. This gives the agent considerable power over your life, so the option of withdrawing the POA is an important safeguard.
Creating the Revocation Document
You can download prepared revocation forms from online sources, or you can write up your own. The statement of revocation must start with your name and date, and a stement that you are of sound mind and wish to revoke the power of attorney. Specify the date that the POA was executed, and the person, persons or firm named as your agent. Finally, sign the form. If you are filing a formal statement of revocation involving control of substantial property, take the form to a notary and have it notarized. If the original POA was informal, between friends or family members, signing the form should be sufficient.
The Next Steps
Once the POA is revoked, letting everyone know is the next step. Start by notifying your agent or agents in writing, with a copy of the revocation form and a simple statement that they may no longer act on your behalf. Distribute copies of the statement to your attorney as well, and all agencies that received notice of the original POA. This may include banks, other friends and family members, or - especially in the case of a health care POA - your physician and local hospital.
The Way Forward
At some point, ideally before revoking the old POA, you need to decide whether to create a new one naming a different agent or agents. This can be a difficult decision to make; however, once you have revoked the original POA, you should be prepared one way or the other. If you have substantial assets to protect, you should also file a formal statement of revocation your area’s public records. If you have business interests to protect, you may want to place the statement in your local newspaper.
Check your state guidelines. The process may differ from state to state. For example, the State of California simply requires that you write “Revoke” in big print at the top of your original power of attorney form, sign and date at the bottom and send it to the state agency.
Ideally, your agent assumes the obligation of acting in your best interest and following your instructions. Before selecting your agent, be sure that you are selecting someone whom you trust and be sure that he understands your point of view and wishes should you become incapacitated.