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Managing Multiple Powers of Attorney: Revoking a Power of Attorney

Posted on: July 10th, 2015
powers of attorneyA power of attorney grants specific authority to an agent over an individual’s healthcare, financial matters, or decisions about assets. These documents can help to prevent delays in medical treatment and ensure financial matters are addressed if an individual becomes incapacitated. Just like any item in one’s estate plan, POAs should be kept up-to-date. 

On occasion, an individual might complete a new POA, designating a different person as their agent. The proper way to execute a new POA is to formally revoke all pre-existing POAs. Failing to do so creates a dilemma of multiple active POAs. There are a few steps individuals should take, along with the guidance of an estate planning attorney, in order to ensure the appropriate POA is used:
  1. Prepare a formal written statement. This should state the individual is of sound mind and wishes to revoke prior POAs. Reference the exact dates the prior POAs were executed to help eliminate confusion over which documents the revocation applies to.
  2. Send notice of revocation. Provide copies of the above statement to the named agents in former POAs. Send the same statement to any parties that might have the former POAs on file, such as healthcare providers, financial institutions, advisors, etc., as well as to any Register of Deeds office at which the document is recorded.
  3. Request returns of old powers of attorney. If parties still have the old POAs in their possession, request the documents be returned. If the parties fail to provide the documents, send a certified letter reiterating the revocation and retain copies of receipts with current estate planning documents.

In the event multiple POAs are active and the individual has become incapacitated—making the above process impossible since it must be completed by someone of sound mind—the agents named in the various POAs all have the authority provided in the documents. This could present many problems and risks effective management of the incapacitated individual’s assets and care. Intervening with the authority of agents in multiple POAs requires court action. Delays are generally common when courts must be involved. However, in these situations it is necessary and a court will appoint a guardian over the incapacitated individual.

Properly maintaining an estate plan can help prevent the issues as noted above. Anyone who is concerned about an outdated or revoked POA, or possibly facing a multiple POA dilemma, should review options with an estate planning attorney before making revisions to their estate plan.

By Attorney Samantha Reichle
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