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How to Revoke Power of Attorney

Written by Chloe Clark
 about the author
4 minute readLast updated May 30, 2023
Reviewed by Denise LettauAttorney Denise Lettau has over 15 years of experience in the wealth management industry.

A power of attorney (POA) is one of the most helpful legal tools someone can possess. When a parent or senior loved one names a power of attorney, it can grant the whole family peace of mind. However, on occasion, there may be a reason that a power of attorney needs to be revoked. Learn how this can be done and when it may be necessary.

Key Takeaways

  1. Power of attorney (POA) can be a helpful legal tool. It grants a trusted person the ability to act on a loved one’s behalf when they are unable to make decisions on their own.
  2. Power of attorney can have a broad or limited scope. It’s essential to be specific about what terms regulate the POA when drafting the document.
  3. Power of attorney can be revoked. Depending on your parent’s state of residence and whether the POA was registered, there are a few key steps to follow for revocation.
  4. In addition to power of attorney, it can be helpful to have your parent speak to a financial advisor. Understanding their broader financial picture can help you both navigate their future needs.

What is power of attorney?

Power of attorney (POA) refers to a legal document in which one person (the principal ) grants another individual (the agent) the power to make medical and/or financial decisions on their behalf. Essentially, this means that your loved one would select a trusted person, usually a family member or friend, who can act on their behalf if they are otherwise incapacitated or unable to communicate their desires.[01]
Power of attorney can range in scope from a limited form that only handles financial decisions to more expansive forms that cover any financial, legal, or medical decisions. Additionally, power of attorney can have a permanent scope or can be for a set amount of time, such as while recovering from a surgery. It can be effective immediately upon signing a power of attorney, or it can be a “springing” power of attorney, which means it only goes into effect if certain predetermined criteria are met.[01]
If a parent is in the early stages of dementia, or just has general worries about their ability to make decisions as they age, it is important for them to select someone to serve as the agent on their behalf.

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How is power of attorney established?

First, it’s important to note that power of attorney laws differ by state. However, there are some common parts of the process, which are outlined below.
If your parent already has someone in mind to serve as the agent on their behalf, the next step is to meet with a lawyer to draft the power of attorney documents. While there are POA forms available online and it is not necessary to have a lawyer’s guidance, it may be helpful. An attorney can answer any questions that arise and ensure that the power of attorney is individualized to your parent’s specific needs.[02]
Many states require the principal’s signature to be notarized on POA documents. Next, the power of attorney should be recorded by the county in which the principal resides. Finally, some states require the form to be registered with a court or other government body.[02]

Can power of attorney be revoked?

Yes, power of attorney can be revoked. The principal who established power of attorney can revoke their agent’s power at any time. However, it is important that the principal is doing so under their own will. If you believe that someone may be manipulating your parent in terms of their financial decisions, then you should contact a lawyer and your local adult protective services agency.[03]
If your parent truly desires to revoke their power of attorney, there are a few steps to follow.

How to revoke power of attorney that is unregistered

If a power of attorney has not been registered, then the process is relatively simple. The first option is for the principal to sign and have notarized a power of attorney revocation document. This option may give the most peace of mind, as there will be a physical, notarized document available to prove that power of attorney has been removed or changed.[04]
If a power of attorney is unregistered, it can also be physically destroyed. Additionally, when first creating a power of attorney, a stipulation can be added to explain how it can be revoked. If this is the case, then those terms should be followed.[04]

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How to revoke a power of attorney that is registered

If your loved one’s state required the power of attorney to be registered, or your parent chose to do so, the process to have it revoked is also fairly simple.
First, a written power of attorney revocation form will need to be signed in front of a notary. Second, the revocation will need to be registered with the same office or agency where the original power of attorney was registered.

Can you verbally revoke a power of attorney?

Yes, in some cases power of attorney can be revoked verbally. However, this can be harder to legally implement and enforce. To ensure that a parent’s wishes are honored, power of attorney should be revoked verbally, and specifically, in front of witnesses. However, this can raise issues in court and may be challenged. Additionally, in some states, power of attorney must be revoked in writing. In general, putting it in writing is the safest way to guarantee that the revocation will be honored.[05]

When should power of attorney be revoked?

There are many reasons why your parent may wish to revoke their power of attorney document. If their spouse is listed as their agent and facing an illness, then they may wish to revoke power of attorney. Drafting a new power of attorney to name one of their adult children or a younger family member as their agent can be a good option in this case.
Since each state may have different laws regarding power of attorney, it is essential to ensure that your parent’s documents are still valid if they relocate. They may also wish to change the terms of their power of attorney, which means a new document will need to be drafted and signed.
Additionally, if your parent no longer trusts their current agent, they should revoke power of attorney. It is important for your parent to feel safe with whomever they are potentially granting control of their financial and medical future.
Ultimately, power of attorney can be one of the best legal tools your parent creates. Speaking with a certified elder law attorney can help your parent understand their options and make informed decisions about their future.


Meet the Author
Chloe Clark

Chloe Clark is a copywriter for OurParents. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, with a background in education and publishing. She has over a decade’s experience in writing for print publications and websites.

Edited byKristin Carroll
Reviewed byDenise Lettau

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