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Estate Planning

I Lost My Power of Attorney Papers, Now What?

Ty McDuffey

December 30, 2022

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Even if you've taken precautions to keep crucial documentation and legal documents safe, there's no guarantee they won't be lost or destroyed. Fortunately, there are ways to replace your power of attorney and other important legal documents. 

If you’ve lost your power of attorney papers, you can revoke the old document and register a new one.

Keep reading to learn how to protect your power of attorney instructions against anyone who might contest them or doubt your mental competency to carry out the revocation.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What a power of attorney is

  • What happens if you don’t make copies of your power of attorney

  • If you can terminate or change a power of attorney

  • How to make a new power of attorney

  • When you should change or revoke a power of attorney

What Exactly is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legally binding document that, once signed, gives the person selected as the attorney-in-fact the legal authority to make financial, medical, or legal decisions on your behalf. 

It is important to take precautions and duplicate your vital legal paperwork. Luckily, Trustworthy makes it easy to save your power of attorney online, in the cloud. 

Book a free 15-minute tour to learn more about how to save your essential legal documents today.

What if I Didn’t Make Copies of My Power of Attorney? 

Don't panic if you didn't create duplicates of your power of attorney. If you hired a lawyer, they could have kept one for you.

Remember that you can rewrite your power of attorney papers from scratch. Many powers of attorney documents also include wording that nullifies any previous powers of attorney.

Is it Possible to Amend or Terminate a Power of Attorney?

Yes, you may change your power of attorney to specify new conditions or terminate it entirely.

If you misplace your signed power of attorney paperwork, legally revoke it, destroy any duplicates, and produce a new one. 

By formally canceling the lost version, you limit the possibility that the previous power of attorney would reappear and cause confusion.

You cannot revoke your power of attorney if you are mentally ill or incapable.

If the courts judge that your representative is not operating in your best interests, they can also revoke any powers of attorney you may have.

How to Make a New Power of Attorney

If you're thinking about getting a new power of attorney, you'll need to include information like:

Who Will Be Named as the Assignee

The key feature of a power of attorney is the assignment. You may delegate responsibility to a single person or numerous people. If you designate two people, you must indicate whether they must make decisions jointly or independently.

When the Power of Attorney Activates

You may indicate that the attorney's powers will begin immediately after the paper is signed, or you can choose a later date for the power of attorney to commence. 

If you don't provide a date, you might declare that a power of attorney will take effect only if you lose mental stability and remain mentally incompetent for a certain length of time. 

In essence, you may designate any event to begin a power of attorney.

What the Assignee’s Abilities Will Be 

You might keep it wide to encompass all financial and legal issues, or you can include particular decisions that your attorney-in-fact may make. You may want to restrict how authority may be utilized in addition to stating the rights of your attorney-in-fact.

Once you've completed the power of attorney form, you should go over it with your lawyer before having it notarized.

Can I Amend Someone Else's Power of Attorney?

Only a court of law or the person who assigned a power of attorney has the authority to change its status. It's also worth noting that someone presently serving as an attorney-in-fact cannot delegate their powers to someone else.

Consult with your lawyer for assistance with your individual circumstance.

When Should a Power of Attorney Be Changed or Revoked?

There are many reasons why you might want to amend or terminate a power of attorney. For example:

You Lost Your Power of Attorney Papers

Creating a new power of attorney is recommended for those who have lost their documentation. You can change the terms or revoke your old power of attorney with a new document. 

You Don't Have Faith in Your Present Power of Attorney 

If your connection with your current attorney-in-fact has changed and you no longer trust them to work in your best interests, consider revoking or changing your power of attorney.

You Simply Want to Appoint a New Power of Attorney

Another reason you may want to change your power of attorney is if you've discovered someone else you'd prefer to make key choices on your behalf.

Your Attorney-in-Fact is No Longer Competent to Handle Your Affairs 

For example, suppose your company has grown rapidly in the past few months. In that case, your attorney-in-fact may no longer be competent to make the difficult financial judgments that your estate requires on your behalf.

Your Designee Is Never Accessible

If your designated attorney-in-fact often travels or no longer lives in your city, this is a solid reason to withdraw their privileges and use a new designee.

You Have Many Designees, and One of them Dies

You'll need a newly designated attorney-in-fact if your existing one dies. If you have many representatives and one of them dies, you may need to appoint a replacement or terminate the power of attorney contract entirely.

Notarizing, Signing, and Witnessing Your Revoked Power of Attorney

A revoked power of attorney must be signed and dated by you. The revocation does not need to be witnessed, but it may be a good idea if you have cause to believe that someone may subsequently doubt your mental competency to carry out the revocation.

Registering a Revoked Power of Attorney

You must register the revocation if you recorded the initial power of attorney at your local registrar of deeds office.

If the revocation is part of the public record, persons dealing with your property after your death will know that the previous attorney-in-fact is no longer permitted to act on your behalf.

Informing Others of the Revocation

It is not enough to sign or even record a revocation for it to take effect; there is one more vital step. 

You must tell the former assignee and any institutions or individuals who have dealt with or may deal with the former power of attorney. They must each get a copy of a Notice of Revocation.

If you do not provide this formal documentation, persons or institutions unaware that the durable power of attorney has been terminated may continue doing business with the previous attorney-in-fact. They are legally protected if they act in good faith

In other words, once you form a durable power of attorney, it is your legal responsibility to ensure that everyone knows you have canceled it.

Example 

Before undergoing a major procedure, Michael creates a power of attorney. Michael revokes the power of attorney in writing after his recovery. He sends a copy of the revocation to his attorney-in-fact, Colette, but fails to send a copy to his bank. 

Colette steals money from Michael's accounts and spends it while pretending to be his attorney-in-fact. Michael is not liable for the bank's loss.

Where Should I Send My Revocation Notifications?

When you're ready to send out revocation notifications, consider everyone with whom the attorney-in-fact has had or may have had relations. 

These might include:

  • Banks 

  • Mortgage lenders 

  • Title corporations

  • Stockbrokers 

  • Insurance firms

  • Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid offices

  • Postal services

  • Physicians

  • Relatives 

  • Business associates

  • Lawyers

  • Accountants

How Can Trustworthy Help?

Whatever the reason for your intended modifications, you can change your power of attorney by taking a few simple steps, which begin with completing the necessary legal documents.

When preparing for your family’s financial future, you’ll want to be able to collaborate as a unit. 

Trustworthy makes it easy to protect your final wishes by sharing your estate planning information with your loved ones. Trustworthy’s cloud-based service allows you to upload and share your estate planning documents in one safe place.

Take steps towards ditching your easily misplaced paper documents and bulky filing cabinets by trying a free 14-day trial with Trustworthy today.

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