If you made a power of attorney as part of a comprehensive estate plan, you will want to know how and when these powers end. When you create a power of attorney you become a principal, while the person who receives the authority to act is known as your agent or your attorney-in-fact. There are several ways a principal can terminate an agent’s authority under a power of attorney.
As long as you remain mentally capable you can terminate your agent’s authority whenever you wish. In practical terms this means you must be able to contact the agent and tell him or her that the powers are terminated. This can be accomplished with a phone call, face-to-face meeting, or through written communication. However, the agent’s ability to act on your behalf continues until he or she actually learns of the termination of powers.
If you granted a non-durable power of attorney, your agent’s abilities to act for you cease as soon as you become incapacitated. Essentially, if you lose your ability to make choices, your agent can no longer act on your behalf. However, an agent granted durable power of attorney does not lose his or her powers upon your incapacitation.
All powers of attorney terminate automatically once the principal dies. If you want someone to represent your interests, or the interest of your estate, after you die, you will need to appoint an executor or personal representative through your last will and testament.
John R. Vermillion & Associates, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.