Most relationships change over time. Woody Allen summed it up nicely in the movie Annie Hall: “A relationship, I think, is, is like a shark, you know, it has to constantly move forward or it dies, and I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”
If your relationship with an agent you named in your Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) has turned into a dead shark, then you need to act. That is because a rogue agent can do a lot to harm your interests.
What is Durable Power of Attorney?
A DPOA is a written document, signed before a notary, which names a specific person – your agent – who then has the right to handle transactions in your name. A third party such as a realtor or banker is entitled to rely upon your DPOA and accept your agent’s signature in place of your own.
If the usual language is included in your DPOA then your rogue agent could, without your knowledge, steal you blind. By way of example, your rogue agent could sell your house, take out a loan in your name, buy a yacht, and cash out your investment accounts. You, of course, would have some remedies such as suing the agent or filing a criminal complaint, but the damage most likely would never be completely undone.
How do I revoke Durable Power of Attorney?
So what should you do if you want to fire your DPOA agent? You have two viable actions.
- The first is to revoke the entire document. You can do this by dying (I recommend this as a last resort), executing a stand-alone document named ” Revocation of Durable Power of Attorney”, or executing a new DPOA that specifically states that it revokes your prior DPOA.
- The second is to leave your DPOA in place and revoke only the rogue agent’s authority. You can do this executing a stand-alone document called something like “Revocation of Agent’s Authority.” Once you have terminated your agent’s authority, the successor agent you named in the document steps up to the plate to serve.
As an aside, if the rogue agent also happens to be your spouse, a divorce decree or annulment automatically terminates the agent’s authority. However, you probably want to remove your spouse’s authority at the beginning of the divorce, not at the end.
Terminating the DPOA or your rogue agent’s authority is just your first step. Now you have to let the agent and the world know. Why? Because, if they do not know of the termination, your agent is still entitled to act and third parties are still entitled to rely upon the agent’s acts. A secret termination is no termination at all.
You should send a written notice enclosing a copy of the revoking document to the agent and to every third party who knew about the agent’s authority. Do this by email and follow it up with first class mail, return receipt requested. If time is short, call the third party and your agent.
File the revoking document in the deed records of the county of your residence and in every county where you own real property or mineral interests. You might even publish notice in a newspaper with a good circulation.
It is never a good idea to continue swimming with a dead shark.
Virginia Hammerle is president of the Hammerle Finley Law Firm, www.hammerle.com. She has been Board Certified in Civil Trial by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for 25 years. Her practice includes litigation in all matters affecting seniors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice.