What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal form that allows an individual to designate a person or an organization to act on behalf of the individual in different financial matters (legal, financial, tax related, etc.). The person creating the power of attorney is called the principal or the grantor. The designated individual or organization is called an agent. In Florida, the principal must sign the power of attorney in front of a notary and two witnesses for the power of attorney to become effective. One of the witnesses cannot also be the designated agent.
Powers of attorney vary in the extent of powers granted. A special power of attorney may specify certain powers that would be granted to the agent. For example, a special power of attorney can limit the powers to healthcare, finances, legal matters, and more. For a power of attorney to be valid and enforced, it must be signed, notarized, and all copies thereafter must be certified.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Revoke a Power of Attorney?
Although revocation forms are available online for every state and can be filled out directly by the revoking principal. It is strongly advised to seek legal counsel to draft your revocation document. The document must include the name of the principal and agent, the date the power of attorney became effective, and the date the revocation will become effective.
Revocations have specific signing instructions and they differ state by state. It is recommended to seek legal advice to ensure proper revocation.
How Do I Cancel a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney may be revoked at any point in time as long as the revoking principal is mentally competent and is at least 18 years of age. In order to revoke a power of attorney, the principal has to sign the revocation document in front of a notary. It is not necessary to have two witnesses present at the revocation. However, it is advisable in case the revocation is challenged in court in the future. The requirements also differ state by state.
After signing, the revocation document should be delivered to the agent as well as the institutions or persons that relied on that power of attorney (courts, banks, attorneys, etc.), in order to provide notice. The revocation is not considered effective until such notice is provided. It is advisable to request these third parties to send all copies of the power of attorney back to the principal. An agent cannot continue acting on behalf of the principal once he has received the formal revocation. Certain state laws require agents to sign affidavits stating that to the best of their knowledge the power of attorney has not been revoked.
In Florida, Chapter 709 of the Florida Statutes governs powers of attorney and Section 2110 governs their revocation. Specifically, Section 709.2109(4) states that, “Termination or suspension of an agent’s authority or of a power of attorney is not effective as to an agent who, without knowledge of the termination or suspension, acts in good faith under the power of attorney. An act so performed, unless otherwise invalid or unenforceable, binds the principal and the principal’s successors in interest.” Therefore, it is critical for the principal not only to notify the agent of the revocation of the power of attorney, but also to obtain some proof of receipt of such notice – for example, a signed letter stating that the agent hereby acknowledges that his authority in the power of attorney has been revoked and terminated.