Completing a Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney (POA) is one type of advance directive that allows you to authorize another person to act on your behalf. POA's are not just for people who are sick or old. If something happened to you and you ended up in the hospital, how would your bills get paid, or your other personal business taken care of? This series goes over the Power of Attorney form, including the options allowed and walks through filling out each section
What you need to know before completing the form: Special Issues Regarding Power of Attorney Forms
Power of Attorney Series
Special Issues Regarding Power of Attorney Forms
What if I change my mind?
Your POA remains in effect until it is revoked or terminated by the terms of the document. If you no longer want a POA at all, want to appoint a new agent, or just want to change some of the other choices you made, you need to revoke the existing POA. Revoking a POA is accomplished by expressing intent. This can be done in several different ways, such as by destroying the original document, by revoking the POA in writing, or by signing a new POA form.
If you are going to revoke a POA, it’s a good idea to send a copy of the revocation to the existing agent by certified mail, return receipt requested, so that you can prove that the agent was notified that he or she was “fired,” or any other changes. If the former agent continues to act as your agent and causes you harm, such as clearing out your bank account or signing a contract, you can sue him for any damages caused. Likewise, it’s a good idea to give a copy of the revocation or new POA form to your bank and other third parties right away.
It was already mentioned that a POA form does not need to be recorded with the State. However, when it comes to revoking a POA, a principal may want to record the written revocation because that gives notice to the world that the agent no longer has authority to act on your behalf.
Agents typically do NOT have the authority to make gifts of the principal’s property unless the principal specifically authorizes it in the POA form. If an agent has been granted the authority to make gifts, the agent may not make a gift to himself unless the principal specifically authorized such gifting. This restriction applies between spouses – that means if your husband is your agent, he cannot use your property to give himself a gift, unless you specifically authorized this.
One of the main advantages to having a Power of Attorney in place is that it often avoids having to go to court to have someone appointed as your guardian or conservator. However, sometimes that can’t be avoided even if you have a POA in place. If for some reason a guardianship or conservatorship is created for the principal by court order, the order would override the terms of the POA form -- even if your POA is durable. The POA is no longer valid, and only the person appointed by the court can act on your behalf.