Changing Your Power of Attorney

You don’t have to grant full authority when preparing a Power of Attorney document.
Changing Your Power of Attorney
CEO of Cartier International Bernard Fornas attends the 'Travel With Style' Concours at Royal Western India Turf Club on November 1, 2008 in Mumbai (Bombay), India. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Cartier International)
Arleen Richards

Granting Power of Attorney to another individual giving him/her the authority to handle your business affairs is a serious legal commitment.

If you have the ability to make decisions and handle your financial business but you are physically incapacitated, it may seem easier to have someone else take care of your financial concerns.  But, it may not be necessary to give the designee full and complete power over all of your affairs. The Power can be limited.

As the owner of property, investments, bank accounts, etc., you decide what Powers to grant and over which types of property. You determine what will be contained in the Power of Attorney document and its duration.

Unfortunately, some people mistakenly believe that preparing a Power of Attorney means relinquishing all control over everything  just because you are incapacitated. When your mind is sharp and you have your own way of managing your business, it can become very stressful to sit idly by while someone else makes decisions that you don’t agree with.

A Power of Attorney document can be revoked by verbally informing the designee or by writing a letter to the designee telling him/her to cease and desist. However, these types of informal revocations are not very effective because there is a chance that the designee will still act anyway.

A more formal approach is to prepare your letter of revocation or a revised Power of Attorney and record it with the clerk’s office of every county where the Power could potentially be used, especially the county where real property is located. In addition, send copies of the revocation document to all of the institutions where you have financial accounts.

The formal approach may seem a little daunting and expensive, but probably well worth it in the long run if you are concerned about the decisions your designee is making.

Remember, the Power is yours and you don’t have to give it all away.

Information contained in this article is not intended to be legal advice nor applicable to all situations. For legal assistance, contact an attorney in your state of residence. You can visit Arleen’s website at

Arleen Richards is NTD's legal correspondent based at the network's global headquarters in New York City, where she covers all major legal stories. Arleen holds a Doctor of Law (J.D.).
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