A power of attorney (POA) typically lasts until its creator dies. However, there are instances in which power of attorney can be revoked or expire early, depending on the type of POA and/or the creator’s wishes.
What’s a POA?
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives a person of your choosing the authority to make decisions on your behalf. Each POA includes a creator, also called the principal (that’s you), and an agent, or attorney-in-fact, who’s responsible for making decisions. The kinds of decisions your power of attorney can make and when they’re able to make them depends on the type of POA you choose.
Learn more about power of attorney and how to get it.
How long does power of attorney last?
There are two overarching types of POA — durable power of attorney and limited. They differ slightly in how and when they expire.
Durable power of attorney
Durable power of attorney allows the agent to make both financial and medical decisions on your behalf, and it’s often permanent — unless you choose to end it yourself. That means it typically lasts until you, the principal, pass away. However, should your wishes change, you can revoke a durable POA.
Limited power of attorney
A limited power of attorney gives your agent the ability to act on your behalf for specific circumstances. The POA document will outline the details of your agent’s authority, including how long their power will last.
For example, let’s say you own a business, and you decide to take some time off to visit a foreign country for a month. You can give your agent the authority to make business decisions on your behalf while you’re away. Your POA will outline the length of time you’ll be gone and the extent of your agent’s duties. When you reach the specified end date, your POA automatically expires.
How to revoke power of attorney
It’s important to note that power of attorney is changeable. Should you decide that your agent isn’t the person you wish to have in charge, or you simply no longer feel you need a POA, you can revoke it. If you choose to do so, you have several options.
Put it in writing
If you choose to put it in writing, you’ll need to fill out a Power of Attorney Revocation Form and present it to your agent. This often requires a notary and may need witnesses to be present, so check with your state’s guidelines before filling out the form.
Destroy all copies
Because a POA is a document, you can simply destroy it if you no longer want or need it. However, if you go with this option, make sure to destroy all existing copies.
Transfer it to someone else
If you want to keep a power of attorney but change the agent, you’ll need to revoke your current one in writing and create a new one that names the new agent. New power of attorney documents need witnesses and a notary present, as well.
Does power of attorney expire? The bottom line
Power of attorney typically ends upon the principal’s death — or at a predetermined time in the case of a limited POA. If you wish to end it sooner, you have the option of revoking your POA whenever you’d like as long as you are mentally able.