When to Update Your Power of Attorney

Mar 6, 2017
Estate Planning Wills / Power of Attorney

Should I be updating my Power of Attorney?

There are many circumstances when you might want to update your power of attorney, but generally these fall into three categories. The first is when your life changes, the second is when you have a problem with your designated agent, and the third is what you want your power of attorney to cover.

Life changes

When you’re creating your estate plan, you don’t exactly know what the rest of your life will bring. You could have twins, for example, start a business, or start donating heavily to a charity you believe in. All of these things might cause you to update your will.
Those same events could trigger an update to your power of attorney as well. Here are some common instances where you might want to think about an update:

  • You have married, and want to designate your spouse as your agent.
  • You have divorced or become separated from your former spouse.  Since it's likely that your spouse was your appointed agent, you'll want to name a new agent.
  • Your child has proven to be incredibly trustworthy and wants the responsibility.
  • There are changes in your state's laws which affect the legality of your Power of Attorney document.

Problems with your agent

Just as you may have new members of your family that make you rethink your estate plan, you may also have problems with your power of attorney agent. Here are some examples that might trigger the appointment of a new agent:

  • Your appointed agent is deceased or is otherwise incapable of handling the responsibility.
  • Your agent is in jail or under investigation.
  • You’ve had a falling out with your agent.
  • You no longer have trust in your agent’s abilities to handle your finances or medical decisions.

Changes to your power of attorney itself

Lastly, though your life may be the same and you may still trust your agent, you might want to pare down your POA or make it more expansive. Simply put, you may just want your agent to have more or less control. There are plenty of reasons for this change. Perhaps your business is doing great and you want to maintain more control than you had previously given yourself. You will have to make that decision yourself.