If you are mentally competent, revoking your power of attorney is a simple process. Some states automatically terminate your power of attorney if your spouse is the attorney-in-fact and the marriage ends in a divorce. Otherwise, your power of attorney remains in effect until you elect to revoke or modify it.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows a person, called the principal, to appoint someone to make decisions on the principal?s behalf. The appointed person, or agent, can handle transactions in any one or more of the following areas as long as the principal authorizes it in the power of attorney:
? Real estate
? Chattel and goods
? Bonds, stocks and commodities
? Business operations
? Claims and litigation
? Family matters
? Government benefit programs
? Health care bill payments and records
? Retirement benefits
? Tax matters
An agent can be authorized to act on behalf of a principal in other business and financial matters in addition to those listed. Some states allow a principal to designate an agent to make health care decisions in a special power of attorney for health care.
Formalities of a Power of Attorney
Generally, a power of attorney must be in writing and signed by the principal in the presence of a notary public, but some states might also require that two or more witnesses be present. States also differ on the need to record the power of attorney.
All states impose strict requirements as to soundness of mind of the principal. The principal must understand the nature of the document, know what it does in granting powers to an agent and must act without pressure or influence from any other person.
Effective Date of a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney usually becomes effective in granting powers to the agent as soon as the principal signs it or the formalities of the state for execution are completed. A principal wishing to delay the use of the power by the agent can do so by adding language to the document. For example, a springing power of attorney is one containing language making it effective upon the happening of a specified event such as the incapacitation of the principal as certified by a medical doctor.
Revoking a Power of Attorney
The revocation of a power of attorney should be in writing and signed with the same formalities as the original document. The revocation must be delivered to the agent and third parties with whom the agent dealt on behalf of the principal.