Executing a Power of Attorney (POA) is essential to long-term planning and can provide you peace of mind for the future. A POA is a document that grants someone else legal authority to make decisions if you are not of sound state of mind and cannot do so yourself. Note that there is no such thing as overturning a Power of Attorney; rather, you can "revoke" a Power of Attorney, or just revise the document.
Revoking Power of Attorney
Designating your POA agent (also called your attorney-in-fact) should not be taken lightly, since there are a number of situations in which the agent might be called upon to act on your behalf. Typically a spouse or attorney will be granted POA, but you may select anyone you like.
Unfortunately, because anyone can be designated an agent, there are times when an attorney-in-fact could take advantage of his status and attempt to defraud you or otherwise misuse his relationship to you. To revoke a Power of Attorney, you need to submit the request in writing. You can write on a blank sheet of paper or fill out a pre-written form. You can locate the forms online for free if you need them. You should submit this paperwork to your original agent, but it does not need to be filed with the government.
At the present time, each state has statutes that speak to how Power of Attorney documents are written and interpreted. Twenty-five states have adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act of 2006, which was drafted by the Uniform Law Commission. It determines which powers are included in the document by default, and which must be explicitly addressed in order to be bestowed on an agent. Each state adopted this proposed act separately and may have customized some aspects of the act.
You will need to include the following information on the Revocation of Power of Attorney form:
- Your full name
- The date you filled out the form
- A statement indicating that you are of sound mind and body
- A clear request that the POA be revoked
- A specification of the agents who held the POA and when it was put in place
- Your signature
You will want to make copies of this document so that all involved parties have one. You don’t need to have these notarized, but you may if you wish. To make sure that it is properly notarized, do not sign the form until you are in the presence of a Notary Public.
A POA can be changed without the consent of the agent. However, you do need to inform the current agent what is happening when it happens. For a POA to be legal, every party must be told about the change in the POA. Though this request can be challenged, as long as you can prove you are of sound mind and body when making your request, the POA will be changed to align with your wishes.
Challenging a Power of Attorney
Contested POAs are resolved in the courts in many ways. If it is determined that the attorney-in-fact is not acting in your best interests, for example, her status can be contested. When contesting a POA, proof of the need for a change must be submitted to the court and a hearing scheduled. The agent must be informed and given a chance to defend her position.
If you believe someone is in danger at the hands of his attorney-in-fact, alert the proper authorities before you go to court for the POA. You can use the allegations and subsequent investigations in your court case against the POA agent.
POA and Family Issues
For someone to make you her agent, she must be of sound mind and sound body. If your sibling is mentally ill, for instance, any POA she signs is not considered valid in a court of law unless the type of mental illness she has does not render her incompetent. Power of attorney responsibilities to siblings are the same as those to anyone else. There is no way to get a valid POA without the knowledge of the principal. Similarly, parents may choose to write separate POAs for different aspects of their lives. For example, one sibling may have the power to make medical choices for his parents while the other one will take over financial duties on behalf of the parent.
- Aging Care: When Family Members Fight Over Power of Attorney
- Law Depot: Revocation of Power of Attorney
- Caring: A Guide to Financial Power of Attorney
- Aging Care: Things You Can and Can't Do with a POA
- Pennsylvania Legislature: Powers of Attorney
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys: Navigating the UPAA