If you have been acting as a person’s Power of Attorney (POA), it means that you have been given the power to act on their behalf. You could be in charge of legal, financial, business and personal decisions – which also means you could be found liable if any breach was to occur (say, mismanagement of funds, for example).
Agreeing to become a person’s Power of Attorney is not always an easy decision. It has the potential to be time-consuming and stressful. If you’re not sure whether to sign on the dotted line to act as a loved one’s POA (or you’re wondering if you can renounce your role down the line), keep reading.
Can a person resign from their role as Power of Attorney?
Depending on the type of power a person has, yes. Keep in mind that resigning is different from ‘revoking’ a POA:
‘Revoking’ is when the principal (the person who appointed another person to be their attorney) voids the POA so that the attorney can no longer act on behalf of the principal (provided the principal has mental capacity). One can do this using revocation of power of attorney, so long as they have the mental capacity to do so.
‘Resigning’ or ‘renouncing’ your POA role is where the attorney can no longer handle the affairs of the person who grants the authority to act on their behalf.
If this is all getting a little too complicated *wipes sweat off face*… see explanations below:
What are the different kinds of Power of Attorneys?
General Power of Attorney is typically a short-term role that allows a person to handle your affairs if you are temporarily unavailable to do so. In saying this, a person has to renounce their POA once the principal can no longer make decisions for themselves. Aside from this, an attorney can renounce their general POA role at any time by filling out a written notice or a form. This is not the same as an enduring POA (more below).
Enduring Powers of Attorney will stay in effect if the principal is unable to make their own decisions (ie. they have a lack of mental capacity to do so). This is a common arrangement that is made by elderly people when they still have the mental capacity to do so.
If an attorney wants to renounce their enduring POA, it’s not so simple (but it is possible). If the principal still has mental capacity, their POA can renounce their role at any time through a written notice or form. However, unlike a general power, they cannot renounce their role at any time. Additionally, some Australian states mandate that the attorney seek leave from the Supreme Court.
To sum it up:
If a principal is unable to give permission (due to lack of capacity), a person can only renounce their Enduring Power of Attorney if there is an alternative attorney who holds a valid authority, or if there is an alternative attorney who has a valid authority to act in their place and who agrees to act in this role.
To learn more, read our Power of Attorney Explained guide.
There are plenty of reasons why a person would want to renounce their role as a Power of Attorney. From personal circumstances like caring for a loved one to needing to focus on your health, there are ways to renounce your role, so long as the principal is looked after, and decisions are made in both of your best interests. To conclude, if you are not sure whether to accept a POA role or you’re looking to renounce your current role, it could be a good idea to seek appropriate legal advice.
Keen to get started on your legal Power of Attorney? Write your POA online today (in as little as 15 minutes!) and enjoy the sweet sweet feeling of peace of mind.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.