Estate Planning

Can I Change My Power of Attorney Without A Lawyer?

Ty McDuffey


When you grant someone power of attorney, you give them legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. This can include making decisions about your finances, healthcare, and other important legal matters. 

However, as circumstances change and relationships evolve, you may need to revoke or modify the power of attorney you have granted. This may leave you wondering whether you need to hire a lawyer to help you make these changes or whether you can do it yourself.

It is possible to change your power of attorney without the help of a lawyer. However, it is important to understand the legal requirements before making these changes and to ensure that the new power of attorney document is legally binding.

In this post, we will explore the ins and outs of changing your power of attorney and whether or not your situation calls for involving a lawyer in the process.

Key Takeaways:

  • A power of attorney can be changed without the help of a lawyer, but it is important to understand the legal requirements for making these changes and to ensure that the new power of attorney document is legally binding.

  • Some reasons you may wish to amend or terminate a power of attorney include changes in life circumstances, a breakdown in the relationship with the current attorney, or the death of the appointee.

  • Changing a power of attorney involves notifying the person who presently has power of attorney, making a written record of the modification, including all necessary wording, notarizing and, if required, recording the document, and notifying all parties involved.

When Should a Power of Attorney Be Changed or Revoked?

There are various reasons why you may wish to amend or terminate a power of attorney, including:

You Don't Have a Relationship with Your Present Power of Attorney

If your relationship with your current agent has changed and you no longer trust them to work in your best interests, you might consider appointing a new one.

Life Changes

You can't predict what the remainder of your life will bring while you're making your estate plan

You may give birth to twins, start a company, or start contributing to a cause you believe in. All of these factors might result in an update to your power of attorney. 

Here are some frequent life-changing scenarios in which you might consider an update to your POA: 

  • You've just married and want to appoint your spouse as your agent.

  • You and your ex-spouse have divorced or separated.

  • Your child has shown to be quite trustworthy and is eager to take on responsibilities.

  • Your state's laws have changed, which affects the legitimacy of your power of attorney document.

Your Current Attorney is No Longer Qualified

Your lifestyle, financial circumstances, or health may change, and you may discover that your attorney is no longer qualified to handle your affairs. 

For instance, if the complexity of business decisions has risen from basic to exceedingly complicated, your power of attorney may no longer be qualified to make the difficult financial judgments that your company requires.

Your Designee is Unavailable

If your designee travels often or no longer resides in your area, this is a solid basis to withdraw their privileges and designate a new attorney.

Your Appointee Dies

You'll need a new appointee if your existing one dies. If you have several appointees and one of them passes away, you may need to appoint a replacement or terminate the power of attorney contract entirely.

How to Make a Power of Attorney Change

Changing a power of attorney normally involves these five major steps:

Step #1: Notify the Person Who Presently Has Power of Attorney

If you want to make changes, tell your current power of attorney as soon as possible. 

This is especially important if you are decreasing or removing their authority. Tell them to stop acting immediately and make them aware of the changes to your power of attorney. 

You can also use this opportunity to discuss your new power of attorney conditions and how to implement modifications you make.

Step #2: Make a Written Record of the Modification

A power of attorney may only be changed or revoked in writing. 

Some states require a particular form for power of attorney modifications. These forms can be found on your state or municipal websites. 

In other states, you can prepare a short letter to your power of attorney since any written notification will suffice. 

In any case, be sure to write out the modifications you're making. This is true whether you are changing the scope of your existing assignment or terminating it entirely.

In theory, issuing a new power of attorney to a third party cancels any previous and overlapping assignments, but you shouldn't depend on this. Even if you appoint a new power of attorney, take care to revise or terminate any existing ones to avoid legal issues down the road. 

Step #3: Include All Necessary Wording

Some states have precise standards for what language must be included in a power of attorney modification or revocation. 

This typically includes your name, the name of your power of attorney, the date the modification or revocation takes effect, and, in certain cases, the date the prior power of attorney took effect.

If you are unclear of your state's criteria, consider drafting a blanket revocation. 

This would include your name, the recipient's name, the date the revocation takes effect, and wording stating that you are withdrawing any and all current power of attorney assignments. 

Some states will accept language like: "As of May 1, I, Ty McDuffey, withdraw any and all current power of attorney assignments held by Jane Doe."

If you are unsure about your state's power of attorney transfer laws, an attorney in your state can answer your questions, and it would be advisable to speak with one. 

Step #4: Notarize and, if Required, Record the Document

In general, you should get your paper notarized. 

This aspect of the process costs money, but it is an essential prerequisite for a transfer or revocation. 

To update your power of attorney, you must get the paperwork notarized in the same manner as you did the original power of attorney document. 

Register the document changing or canceling your power of attorney with any municipal agency or registrar you recorded the original. 

Notarizing your revocation will provide evidence for the court in the chance that an angry relative or friend challenges your power of attorney revocation. 

Step #5: Notify All Parties Involved

Finally, you should tell anybody with a reason to be aware of your power of attorney arrangement. 

Reach out to everyone who may routinely work with your power of attorney or who should be aware that this grant of authority has expired or altered. While this step is not legally required, it may save you time and confusion later on.

What Types of Tasks May I Delegate to My New Agent?

You may delegate authority to an agent to:

  1. Purchase or sell items on your behalf; 

  2. Apply for public benefits (such as Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security); 

  3. Manage your company; 

  4. Collect debts; 

  5. Invest your money; 

  6. Cash checks; or 

  7. Litigate on your behalf.

In your new power of attorney paperwork, you must indicate what powers you are granting to your agent and when those powers will take effect.

While a lawyer may not be required to delegate tasks to an agent in a power of attorney document, it can be beneficial to involve a lawyer to ensure that the document is legally valid and that the powers being delegated are appropriate and in the best interest of the principal.

Is it Necessary to Specify Each Authority Granted?

For many purposes, broad wording granting an agent "full powers" to handle your financial affairs or make health care choices may suffice. 

However, certain abilities are only granted if they are clearly specified. 

Those that deserve special note are:

  • The authority to make gifts of money or other property; 

  • The authority to alter your community property agreement; and 

  • The authority to name beneficiaries on your insurance policies.

An agent cannot be granted certain capabilities. These are some examples:

  • The ability to vote in public elections; and 

  • The ability to establish or change a will.

Specifically approved powers may be particularly consequential for married couples who are worried about what would happen if one of their spouses got sick and required nursing home care or other long-term care. 

The ability to transfer property from the handicapped spouse to the healthy spouse may be required for Medicaid eligibility.

Giving an agent extensive authority to make gifts of your property, on the other hand, may result in major complications if the agent turns out to be untrustworthy or imprudent. 

You should consult with a lawyer if you have any questions concerning these matters.

When and for How Long Does My New Power of Attorney Last?

A power of attorney might be drafted to take effect immediately upon signing or to take effect later.

The future time may be an exact date, or it may be determined by the occurrence of an event, such as your doctor's determination that you are unable to make choices on your own.

A power of attorney may be drafted to continue for a certain amount of time or forever, but when you die, your power of attorney expires. It is not a replacement for your will. 

Although it may not be necessary to necessary to involve a lawyer to determine when and for how long a power of attorney lasts, an attorney can provide advice on the appropriate time for your power of attorney to take effect and how long it should last, taking into account your specific circumstances or considerations.

Related: How To Get Power of Attorney For A Deceased Person?

Modifying the Power of Attorney When the Principal is Unable to Do So

If the principal is incompetent and the agent is unavailable, abusing the principal, or has resigned, the family must ask the court to appoint a guardian or conservator. The court will next consider if the principal needs a guardian.

Guardianship may also be invoked if an agent has failed to act in the principal's best interests and you, as the principal's friend or family member, want to invalidate the POA. 

Although the principal may realize what is going on, their present agent may leave them powerless. If the court approves, be prepared to act as guardian or agent.

When the principal cannot change their power of attorney themselves, it may be necessary to involve a lawyer to ensure that the process is carried out legally and ethically. This is particularly important when there may be concerns about undue influence or coercion.

Protect your Power of Attorney Document

If you are creating your own power of attorney paperwork, it is a good idea to send copies of it and the updated revocation notice to family and friends. 

With Trustworthy, you can securely save the new document on the cloud and share it with your family to avoid future complications. 

The more people are aware of your revocation and new power of attorney, the less likely it will be challenged in court.

Save your family time and money by ensuring they can access your new power of attorney. Start a free 14-day trial with Trustworthy today