Powers of Attorney is an important concept to understand and prepare as it can protect you in the future when you are unable to make important decisions on your behalf. But do you know how to change or update your Powers of Attorney? Let’s start with the basics first.
What is a Power of Attorney (aka. POA)?
A Power of Attorney is a document that enables an individual to appoint another person, the Attorney, to make decisions and do certain things on their behalf. The types of matters an Attorney can make decisions on include both personal matters and financial matters.
Reasons for cancelling or changing your Power of Attorney
There are many reasons why you may wish to change or cancel a Power of Attorney. Here are some of them.
If your relationship with your Attorney changes
This is an extremely common reason for cancelling or changing a Power of Attorney.
Relationships are always changing and evolving. You might have a falling out with your nominated Attorney, you might simply grow apart, or you might start to feel that you no longer trust them. Any of these circumstances may be an indication that you should appoint a different Power of Attorney.
Equally, if you are no longer comfortable sharing detailed personal information with this person, you might also consider changing your Powers of Attorney.
If your Attorney is no longer capable of making decisions for the purpose that you appointed them
You may find that as your lifestyle, financial situation and health changes and evolves that the individual you appointed as your Power of Attorney is no longer capable or suitable for the role. This can be for various reasons. For example, if you are subject to a windfall inheritance or your financial situation significantly improves, your nominated Attorney may no longer feel comfortable or be able to make financial decisions that now bear bigger consequences and are far more complex.
In a situation where you feel your circumstances have outgrown the capability of your nominated Attorney, you may wish to cancel your Power of Attorney, appointing someone more capable of handling your current situation and needs instead.
If your Attorney passes away
When making your Power of Attorney, you can nominate one Attorney or multiple Attorneys. You only appoint one, and they predecease you, then you may wish to appoint a new Attorney in their place.
If your Power of Attorney is no longer available or no longer wants the responsibility
There are a number of circumstances in which your nominated Attorney might no longer want the responsibility of making decisions on your behalf, or they may no longer be available to do so. For example, if your Power of Attorney works a very demanding job or travels frequently, their unavailability may urge you to make a new Power of Attorney.
Of course, if your Power of Attorney expresses to you that the responsibility is too much then you may wish to cancel their nomination as your Power of Attorney.
If your Attorney abuses their power or does something criminal
Given the responsibility involved in being someone’s Power of Attorney, we would only ever recommend nominating someone you trust. And, although your nominated Attorney is bound to act in your best interests, sometimes things can go awry.
Some more extreme examples in which you would want to cancel a Power of Attorney that you’ve made include if your Attorney steals from you or if they conduct elder abuse against you in any way (physically or financially).
How to cancel or change your Power of Attorney
If you wish to either change some of the details in your Power of Attorney or appoint an entirely new Attorney, you may need to actively cancel the current documents and make a new Power of Attorney.
You may opt to simply advise your Power of Attorney that you are cancelling their powers, however it is best to do so in writing so it can be clearly and easily proven at a later date if required. Further, you must ensure that the Attorney whose powers you are cancelling gets a copy of this revocation.
Finally, you should note that you can revoke your Enduring Powers of Attorney at any time, provided you have the mental capacity to understand what you are doing at the time you make the decision.
Here are the necessary formalities in each state and territory across Australia.
Cancelling or Changing a POA in Victoria
In Victoria, unless specified otherwise, making a new Power of Attorney will automatically cancel any precious Powers of Attorney documents you might’ve had. If you write your Power of Attorney with Willed, you can make unlimited changes to your POA by logging in to your account. It’s vital that your new POA is properly signed each time you update it.
Cancelling or Changing a POA in New South Wales
In New South Wales no specific form is required. However you must have something in writing that includes:
- Your name
- The registered number of the document, if it’s registered or the date that the Power of Attorney commenced, if it’s unregistered
- the revocation date, and
- the specific words ‘hereby revoke’.
Cancelling or Changing a POA in South Australia
In South Australia there is no specific form required, but like in New South Wales, you must have something in writing clearly stating you are revoking the Power of Attorney.
Cancelling or Changing a POA in Western Australia
In Western Australia it is recommended that you revoke your Power of Attorney in writing, but this is not mandatory.
Cancelling or Changing a POA in Queensland
In Queensland to revoke your Power of Attorney there are three steps.
- Step 1. You and a witness must sign this government form.
- Step 2. You must notify your Attorney or Attorneys of your plans to cancel their powers as your attorney.
- Step 3. If your POA is registered under the Land Titles Act 1994, you must deregister it.
Cancelling or Changing a POA in Tasmania
In Tasmania the Attorney must be given notice that you are revoking their powers. You can use this form to do this. Then, if your Powers of Attorney document was registered with the Land Titles Office, it is essential that you also register this revocation.
Cancelling or Changing a POA in the ACT
In the ACT you can revoke your Powers of Attorney orally or in writing at any time. No form is required.
Cancelling or Changing a POA in the Northern Territory
In the NT you can revoke your Powers of Attorney at any time. If the document is registered, you must complete this form, pay the fee and submit it to the Land Titles office.
Once you have completed the steps relevant to your state or territory it is important to destroy all original and copies of written documents relating to the previous Power of Attorney. We recommend that you also inform your bank and any other businesses that your Attorney may have been dealing with.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why you may wish to cancel or change your Power of Attorney. These can be due to your circumstances changing and wishing for your Power of Attorney to reflect that or rather due to the Attorney themselves no longer being suitable to fulfill the role. Choosing your Power of Attorney is an important decision that has lasting effects, so if you feel unsure about the choice you have made or just wish to update your Power of Attorney you should do so while you still can.