Who Can Override Power of Attorney?
Posted: January 12, 2023
The American legal system grants us the power to appoint a person to act on our behalf. This is known as “power of attorney,” and there are a number of reasons why someone may choose to grant this authority to someone else
While power of attorney is generally considered exclusive and binding, there are also certain situations where it can be overridden by another party. To understand how power of attorney can (or can’t) work for you, here’s what to know about this legal tool.
What Is Power of Attorney?
In the most basic terms, power of attorney allows any person (referred to as the principal) to designate a trusted individual (called an agent) to take action on their behalf. Declining health or old age are common reasons why PoA is granted, but some people also choose to appoint someone with this power when they can’t be physically present for certain legal processes.
Power of attorney can be granted as general permission for all legal actions or for a specific type of transaction, depending on what is needed. Once PoA has been granted, the agent is bound to act in the best interests of the principal by a legal doctrine called fiduciary duty.
The two most common types of limited power of attorney are in financial and medical situations. As the name suggests, financial power of attorney grants the agent power to make financial decisions such as signing purchase contracts. Medical power of attorney grants the agent authority to make decisions about the principal's healthcare if the principal is unable to for any reason.
Overriding or Revoking Power of Attorney
The principal, of course, has the power to override or revoke their agent’s permission or authority to act at any time, assuming the principal is of legally sound mind. This is done through a standard form in each state called a Revocation of Power of Attorney. The principal can then either grant those powers to a new agent or reserve them exclusively for themselves.
But what if the principal is not present or fit to revoke their agent’s power? Can another party override or revoke PoA?
Because power of attorney is such a powerful legal force, revoking it is not a simple matter. With that said, there are some situations where PoA can be taken away from an agent. Generally, the only scenario in which a judge will allow another party to override an agent's PoA is when that person can prove that the agent has not been acting in the principal's best interests. In order to do so, the person seeking to revoke the PoA must provide evidence that the agent has been abusing their power or that the agent has been grossly negligent in their fulfillment of the principal's interests, as defined by fiduciary law.
Regardless of whether you are a principal, agent, or independent party, actions like overriding power of attorney require an understanding of the facts of the situation as well as of the law. If you want to understand your legal rights and powers—or learn about any other laws— BookLawyer is your go-to source for free legal information and research tools. You can find helpful articles, browse explanations of 1,600 legal topics, and get answers to your legal questions. To get started, just visit BookLawyer.com.
Neal Nagely is the founder and CEO of BookLawyer, a free legal information site for individuals and small businesses. Neal practiced law in Dallas, Texas for 10 years before creating BookLawyer to help people get answers to their legal questions and have affordable access to a lawyer when necessary.
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