How do you revoke a power of attorney?

Powers of attorney (POA) are legal documents that authorize one person (the agent) to act on behalf of another (the principal).

Powers of attorney can be extremely broad – granting your agent significant ability to access your financial accounts and make legal and binding agreements on your behalf – to relatively limited. For example, you may give someone your limited power of attorney to sell your house for you because you moved out of the country and it would be inconvenient and expensive for you to keep returning to handle the transaction.

However, a POA is something that you granted, which means that you can also revoke it – so long as you have the mental and physical capacity to do so.

Why would you revoke a power of attorney?

Usually, people revoke a power of attorney because they no longer feel like the agent they chose has their best interests at heart or is capable of doing the job.

For example, perhaps you selected your youngest sibling to act as your agent in case you were ever incapacitated due to an accident or illness. At the time, you both held similar belief systems, and you trusted your sibling to make decisions for you that were in line with those beliefs.

Things have changed. Maybe your sibling has become more religious in recent years, and that’s led them to have different opinions than they once held on things like pain medications, “Do Not Resuscitate” orders and more. Maybe they’ve changed religions and now hold firm beliefs on things like blood transfusions, transplants and organ donation. Or, maybe you simply no longer trust your sibling’s judgment for some reason.

How do you revoke a power of attorney?

You can simply destroy the original power of attorney document and all copies. While not mandatory, it is also wise to sign a formal revocation notice and have it notarized, and copies can be given to anybody that your agent acted with on your behalf. Send a copy by certified mail to your former agent, so that there are no doubts about whether they were notified.

If you have concerns about your agent’s actions or need to learn more, legal guidance can help.