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Revoking a power of attorney is possible but complicated

| Mar 10, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Though many Virginia residents equate estate planning with simply creating a will, it covers more than that. In some unfortunate circumstances, an individual may be alive but unable to make decisions for their own benefit. Whether someone is incapacitated due to a car accident or slowly losing cognitive functioning due to a degenerative disease, having estate planning documents in order prevents them from becoming wards of the state. Additionally, someone who lives outside of the country or travels a great deal may need someone trustworthy to manage their financial affairs in America. One way to ensure important financial and healthcare related decisions are made by someone they trust is by creating a power of attorney.

What is a power of attorney?

A principal creates a power of attorney authorizing another person to act on their behalf. The other person, the attorney in fact, can make limited or broad decisions, depending on the nature of the power of attorney. The principal generally selects someone they know and rely on and decide what that person can do on their behalf and when the power of attorney becomes active.

Can you revoke a power of attorney?

Just like with all estate planning documents, it is important to review a power of attorney from time to time. The general rule of thumb is to go over it whenever a significant life event happens, such as a marriage, a death, a birth or a divorce. If a spouse is an attorney in fact, this might have to be changed if the couple divorces. Similarly, a child may be selected, but their marriage may have changed the situation enough that the principal wants to appoint someone else.

One way to do so is by revoking the power of attorney. This has to be in writing, signed by the principal and conveyed to the attorney in fact. This can become complicated depending on the principal’s relationship to them. It also matters if the attorney in fact is already acting on behalf of the principal. Another way to proceed is by executing a new one. Generally, power of attorneys contain language invalidating a prior one if a new one is executed.

Again though, providing notice can be tricky. It also has to be given to any institutions or entities that were providing the prior power of attorney. It can be helpful to have an experienced attorney create one and manage the legalities of it, so it is valid and includes language of revocation in it as well.