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Methods for revoking a power of attorney

A power of attorney is one of the most useful and versatile estate planning tools available to New York residents. The document will appoint an agent, or attorney-in-fact, to act in the place of the principal with limited or broad powers. If it's a durable power of attorney, the powers will continue if the principal becomes disabled.

However, circumstances in life may change and the POA will need to be revoked. In some cases, the reason for the POA is no longer existent. In other times, the principal may want another agent or has lost trust of the previous agent. If the principal is not under a mental disability and has the faculties to understand the document, the POA can be revoked. There are several ways this can be accomplished.

The first step is to read the document and locate the provisions for revocation. It may provide a specific method to revoke the document. This method will control the revocation power. For example, if the POA requires the principal to revoke via first class mail, an email may not legally suffice.

Most professionals will recommend another method or two to ensure the agent is placed on notice of the revocation. A phone call and email in addition to a mailed letter is a safe practice. Sending the revocation through certified mail with a return receipt provides proof of delivery, which may be needed later on. Others recommend sending a copy of the revocation to those the agent has been dealing with, such as banks or financial advisors.

Failing to revoke the POA properly can have lasting consequences, especially if the principal has lost the trust of the agent. For this reason, many estate owners choose to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. Leaving the matter to a professional will lessen the chances of mistakes and financially harmful transactions in the future.

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