Ending a Power of Attorney

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Kevin Smith in March 2019.

A limited power of attorney ends when the job it describes is done, or on the date it specifies. For example, if you gave your attorney power to sell a piece of property, the power of attorney ends when the property is sold.

A general power of attorney automatically ends in each of these circumstances:

  1. If you become mentally incapable, unless you have an enduring power of attorney clause.
  2. If your attorney dies, unless you name an alternate or more than one attorney.
  3. If you die.
  4. If a committee of estate is appointed to make legal and financial decisions for you.

You can cancel your power of attorney

You can revoke — that is, cancel — your power of attorney at any time as long as you are mentally capable. You must put your decision in writing. The written decision is called a notice of revocation.

You must give a signed and dated copy of the written notice of revocation to each attorney appointed in your power of attorney. Send a copy of the revocation notice to any organizations, companies, or individuals your attorney deals with. Keep a copy of the notice of revocation for your own records.

The revocation generally takes effect when it is given to everyone who needs to receive it. Or you can specify a future date when it should take effect.

Your attorney can quit

If your attorney wants to resign, they must say so in writing. The written decision is called a notice of resignation. They must give the written notice of resignation to you (as the person who appointed them) and to any other attorneys named in the power of attorney.

If you’re incapable of making decisions at the time your attorney is resigning, the attorney must also give the notice of resignation to your spouse, near relative, or close friend.

You’ll need to notify any organizations, companies, or individuals that the attorney deals with if they resign.

A new power of attorney doesn’t automatically cancel the old one

You can also cancel a power of attorney by saying so in a new power of attorney replacing it. But be aware that more than one power of attorney can be in effect at the same time. If you want to be sure you have only one power of attorney in play, when you prepare a new power of attorney, write at the beginning:

“I revoke any and all powers of attorney I have previously made.”

If someone misuses your power of attorney

Misusing a power of attorney is a crime. If your attorney abuses his or her power, cancel the power of attorney immediately and then seek legal advice. You may be able to sue your attorney to get back any money or property that has been taken.

If you’re incapable and can’t cancel your power of attorney, you or someone else can call the Public Guardian and Trustee or a designated responder, and report the situation. They will investigate.

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