Everyone should have a will to distribute his or her assets after death, but the executor of your will cannot handle your affairs before you die. Equally important, therefore, is a Power of Attorney (POA) that allows someone to act on your behalf if you become disabled and unable to handle your financial affairs. The “agent” then acts for you, the “principal,” handling matters just as you would. Without a POA, the court may have to appoint a guardian. For various reasons it may become necessary to dissolve the POA.
Decide what type of POA you need. A regular power of attorney takes effect when you sign it and stays in effect until you become mentally incapacitated. If you want the POA to continue after you become incapacitated, you must spell that out in your POA.
A Durable Power of Attorney also begins when you sign it but stays in effect as long as you live, unless you cancel it. You must specify that you want your agent to continue to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated.
A Springing Power of Attorney literally springs into effect when a specific event happens, such as when the principal becomes incapacitated. The POA must spell out exactly how that event is to be determined.
Cancel a POA at any time by putting in writing that you want to revoke it. You must notify the agent that you have canceled the POA and that he no longer represents you in financial matters. You must also send a notice of revocation to other parties, such as banks, that the agent has been dealing with on your behalf. The POA automatically dissolves upon your death. Third parties should be notified of the principal’s death.
Revoke the POA legally. Your POA may spell out ways in which a friend or family member can check on how your agent is handling your affairs. The friend can demand an accounting of the financial affairs. If there has been abuse of the POA, it may be a criminal matter. You should revoke the power of attorney if you are able to do so. If not, the concerned friend or family member can apply to probate court to appoint a guardian to handle your affairs. The guardian can also apply to the court to revoke the POA.
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