By Kathy Cooper
You appointed a person you believed would take good care of your financial affairs if you were disabled or unable to do so. But now … you’re not so sure. This person, your attorney-in-fact or agent under a durable power of attorney, commonly called a POA, has the authority to act in your place if you become incapacitated. In fact, without a POA, no one can represent you until a court steps in to appoint a guardian or conservator.
If you’re thinking about a change, you should know that you have the right to change your POA. The process of removing your old POA is called revocation. Here are a few things to consider before you revoke their authority and some ideas about how to go about changing your POA if you decide that’s the best thing to do.
When should you worry about your POA? Think about a change if your POA handles money in a careless way, has a gambling problem, is in the middle of a nasty divorce or has a serious problem that may affect their judgment. This is only a partial list, but understand that you don’t need a “reason”. It’s up to you.
ElderLawAnswers lists the major steps: (1) put the revocation in writing with all important information including the legal names of the parties, the date when the original POA was appointed, a statement regarding your capacity and your wish to revoke the POA; (2) once you have signed the POA, send it to the person whose authority you are revoking as well as any other institutions that might have a copy of it; (3) get the POA back from the person, however, if you are unable to get it back then make sure you have proof, such as a certified letter, that it was sent; (4) attach a copy of your new POA for each institution you contacted with the revocation. (5) send a copy of your new POA and the revocation to any county in which you have real estate.
If you decide that revoking your current POA is the best thing to do, consider contacting an elder law attorney to assist you, as ElderLawAnswers suggests. It’s important to make sure the process you follow complies with your state laws, and you should appoint a new POA right away so that you always have someone who can represent you. Further, there is important language that should be in every POA today. An elder law attorney can counsel you about how to choose the best POA for your individual circumstances.