When and How to Change the Person Named in Your Power of Attorney
Note: This article is about a Power of Attorney and not a Health Care Power of Attorney, the latter often known as a Health Care Proxy which is a separate document that appoints someone to make decisions for you related to your health and care. To learn more about the differences, visit Gentreo.com.
With a Power of Attorney, you (the principal) can select in advance who you would like to act on your behalf in case you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The person you choose to act on your behalf is called the agent or attorney-in-fact.
Selecting someone to serve as your agent or attorney-in-fact is a significant decision.
The person you choose as your attorney-in-fact under a typical Power of Attorney, from the time you sign it, will be able to make decisions and control all aspects of your finances from banking to sales and loans against assets owned like your home and car to your stocks and bonds. Thus, the person you choose should be someone who is honest and trustworthy and will have your best interests in mind when he or she makes decisions on your behalf.
While many people select close family or friends to serve as their attorney-in-fact, sometimes relationships end or are tarnished or someone passes away. In these cases, one may need or want to change the person named in your Power of Attorney.
When to Change Your Attorney-in-Fact
The best time to change your attorney-in-fact in your Power of Attorney is immediately upon a change in the status of that person or your relationship with him or her.
For example, if your named attorney-in-fact were to die, become incapacitated, or move out of state, you should take immediate steps to revoke his or her authority and create a new Power of Attorney selecting a new attorney-in-fact. The same is true if you have a change in relationship status with the named individual. For example, while it is unfortunate, often people have falling outs with family members or friends. If you find yourself at severe odds with a family member who you named as your attorney-in-fact, you should probably immediately take steps to revoke that person’s authority. It would be terrible to have someone with whom you are fighting to have authority over your financial decisions if you become incapacitated.
How Do You Change a Power of Attorney?
Fortunately, changing your Power of Attorney document is much easier than changing other types of legal document
The first thing you should do is prepare a new Power of Attorney selecting your new attorney-in-fact. There should be a paragraph within the Power of Attorney document that indicates that all prior versions are null and void and that you are revoking any previous Power of Attorneys that you executed.
Once you have your new Power of Attorney, you should then prepare a separate letter or notice to send to your prior attorney-in-fact, indicating that you are revoking his or her powers under your prior Power of Attorney. At the same time, you should provide the same letter along with a copy of your new Power of Attorney to any doctors or financial institutions who may have received the original Power of Attorney document.
Basically, you want to put everyone on notice that your prior Power of Attorney has changed. In some states, a Power of Attorney can be recorded with your county planed Records Office. If this is applicable in your state, you should file the revocation notice along with the new Power of Attorney document.
Keep your Power of Attorney Document Safe
If you are drafting your own Power of Attorney document, it is a good idea to provide copies of it and the new revocation notice to family and friends through us at Gentreo. You can safely file the new document in your Gentreo family vault to eliminate challenges or confusion down the line. In other words, the more people who are aware of your revocation and new Power of Attorney, the less likely you are going to have anyone challenge it later on.
Changing an attorney-in-fact is relatively simple when compared to modifying other legal documents. A good rule of thumb is to make changes immediately upon a change in circumstances concerning your existing attorney-in-fact. The key is to do it properly and quickly so that an old Power of Attorney does not impact the status of your financial accounts. Make sure to save all updated documents in your Gentreo Family vault and share the updated document with relevant parties.
For more information, visit us at Gentreo.com. We provide a simple and affordable way to create a heath and estate family plan.
Gentreo is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm, or attorney, or an attorney’s advice or recommendations.