Recently one of my clients came into the office in hopes of revising his power of attorney. The client had met with me three years ago to draft a last will and testament, a living will, and both a healthcare and a durable general power of attorney. In his durable general power of attorney, the client had appointed his eldest adult son as his primary agent. Regrettably, in the past year, the son had gone through a devastating divorce. In the midst of expensive legal fees and a lost marriage, the son had turned to alcohol to soothe his heartache. What's more, my client also discovered that his son had been stealing from him. My client told me he was concerned about his son's current ability to make sound decisions. Based on these circumstances, my client decided to remove his son as his agent and to draft a new power of attorney.
When clients come into our office to create a durable general power of attorney I encourage them to pick someone they trust to appoint as an agent. After all, whoever you appoint will be in charge of your assets and property. Most of our clients name a close family member, such as an adult child, a spouse, or a sibling, as their agent. However, sometimes situations change, and clients are no longer comfortable with their choice of an agent.
You can revoke a power of attorney at any time. In my client's situation, he chose to revoke his son's authority due to his situation. In the future, my client may decide that his son's overall well-being has improved and that he trusts his son to make financial decisions on his behalf. If my client wants to reappoint his son as his primary agent, he can draft an updated power of attorney at any time.
When Its Time to Appoint a New Agent
There are several reasons why you may choose to revoke a power of attorney to remove your agent:
- Your agent has a mental or physical disability
- Loss of trust in your agent
- Your agent moves away from the area in which you live
Whatever the situation, if you are uncomfortable with your current agent, revoke the power of attorney and appoint an agent whom you trust to make long term healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Tennessee Law on Revoking Your Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document stating that the person signing (the principal) is giving another person (the agent) the authority to make healthcare decisions for them.
Tennessee law states that you can revoke a power of attorney at any time. The only provision is that you must have be competent to sign the legal document. A revocation is effective as soon as you sign and file the document.
The State of Tennessee provides three ways to revoke an agent's authority:
Option 1: Execute a Revocation of the Power of Attorney
If you lose trust in your agent the best way ensure that your agent will lose his power is to sign a revocation of your power of attorney. But revoking a power of attorney is not always based on conflict or loss of trust. You may want to appoint a new agent simply because your current agent has moved to another state. Whatever the reason, if you want to revoke your agent's authority you should execute a revocation of the power of attorney and file it with the Register of Deeds office in the county in which you reside. This gives public notice to anyone who has an interest in your affairs that the agent you previously appointed no longer has power.
Option 2: Create a new power of attorney naming a new agent.
Another way to revoke an agent's authority is to draft a new power of attorney. Appointing a new agent immediately removes the authority of any previous agents. This revocation should be made apparent in the new document you prepare. Speak with your estate planning attorney to make sure your new power of attorney contains a provision revoking the power of previous agents.
Option 3: Ask Your Medical Provider to Inform Your Healthcare Agent
If you feel uncomfortable notifying your healthcare agent, one option is to contact your agent through your medical provider. Let your medical provider know that you are revoking your power of attorney. Communicate that your current agent will no longer have the authority to make healthcare decisions for you. Send your provider a legal copy of the revocation of power attorney to put in your medical file. Then your healthcare provider will attempt to notify your agent for you to let them know you have revoked your medical power of attorney. Always remember to file a copy of the revocation of the power of attorney with the Register of Deeds and draft a new power of attorney appointing a new agent.
Contact a Clarksville Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Whomever you named as your agent under your power of attorney, that individual has the authority to make healthcare and financial decisions for you. If you want to remove the agent's authority, revoke your power of attorney and create a new power of attorney to appoint a new agent. The bottom line: put the revocation in writing. File it with the Register of Deeds office. Protect yourself. Simply telling someone they are no longer your agent usually is not enough to legally revoke his or her authority.
We recommend meeting with an estate planning attorney to assist you in drafting a revocation of power of attorney. This guarantees that the revocation will meet legal requirements and that it will be filed with the register of deeds. After revoking a power of attorney, make sure you draft a new healthcare power of attorney to appoint a new agent.
If you are considering revoking a power of attorney to change your appointed agent, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to assist you in the process.