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Posted September 12, 2007

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Legal: Revoking a Power of Attorney

Q. My brother-in-law has given one of his brothers the power of attorney. If he now decides to give his power of attorney to his girlfriend, will this void the POA that his brother is holding?

Brigitte R., Rhome, Texas.

A. You need to consult a lawyer who can provide you with details about the statutory standards for a power of attorney in your state.

In general, subject to the possibility that your state might have a special rule, simply signing a new power of attorney does not revoke a previous power of attorney. The best practice, and at times the legal requirement, is that a previous power of attorney be revoked in a separate document and duly acknowledged before a notary public, just as the original document was.

If the original power of attorney was filed with any government agency that records documents, the best practice, and perhaps a specific legal requirement, is that the document revoking that power of attorney also be filed with the government agency that recorded the original.

Finally, prudence also dictates that any bank or financial institution where the earlier power of attorney may have been used should also be notified of any revocation.

This answer is provided by Howard F. Angione, an attorney in Queens, New York, whose practice is devoted to the needs of the elderly and those who care for them. Mr. Angione was the principal editor of Elder Law and Guardianship in New York, a practice guide for attorneys, and of the 5th Edition of Harris Trusts and Estates, a three-volume work for attorneys on probate in New York State . He also is a member of the executive committee of the Elder Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. Mr. Angione can be reached at

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