Change or end a power of attorney

What are my rights?

Having made a power of attorney, can I end it at any time?
  • Yes
  • No

If you have a power of attorney, naming someone to take care of financial and legal matters for you, you may decide you want to change or end it. Learn your rights and options for changing or ending a power of attorney. 

What you should know

You can make changes to a power of attorney

As long as you’re legally capable, you can change your power of attorney at any time. For example, you may want to give your attorney more, or less, power.  

In this context, legally capable means you must understand the nature and consequences of the proposed changes to the power of attorney.

“My sister Mina prepared an enduring power of attorney several years ago. At the time, she was healthy and her mind was sharp. Since then, she’s experienced physical and mental decline. She can no longer change or end her enduring power of attorney, because she wouldn’t understand the changes.”

– Rachael, Comox, BC

You can’t simply write your changes into the document — there are certain rules you must follow. An amendment is a separate document that sets out the changes to be made. The amendment should refer to the original power of attorney. And the law says it must be signed in a certain way.

Any valid change you make to your power of attorney is binding on your attorney, unless they resign. This means that your attorney is required by law to follow any new rules or restrictions that you’ve introduced.  

Another strategy

An alternative to amending your power of attorney is to end (revoke) it. You can then make a new power of attorney that reflects the desired changes.

You can end (revoke) a power of attorney

You can end (revoke) your power of attorney at any time, as long as you're capable of understanding the nature and consequences of doing so.

You must put your decision in writing in a notice of revocation. Below, we explain how. You must give a signed and dated copy of the notice of revocation to each attorney and alternative attorney appointed in your power of attorney.

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

You can also end 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 used at the same time. If you want to be sure you have only one power of attorney, when you create a new power of attorney, write at the beginning: 

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

If your attorney wants to 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 notice of resignation to you (as the person who appointed them) and to any other attorneys named in the power of attorney. 

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

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

If your attorney resigns, do you have an alternate who can step in? If not, and you still want help managing your financial affairs, you’ll need to prepare a new power of attorney (or amend your existing document).

Notice of resignation form

Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry provides detailed information on resigning as an attorney, including a blank notice of resignation form. 

Change a power of attorney

Step 1. Put your decision in writing

If you want to make changes to your existing power of attorney document, there are certain rules you must follow. 

You must put the change in writing. A formal change to a legal document is called an amendment. This is a separate document, that refers to the original power of attorney, and sets out the changes to be made. Consider asking a lawyer or notary to draft the amendment for you.

An amendment should be signed and witnessed in a certain way. For example, if you are changing an enduring power of attorney:

  • You must sign the amendment with a handwritten signature.

  • You must sign and date the amendment and have the signing witnessed by two witnesses. The witnesses must also sign and date the amendment in front of you.

  • You need only one witness if the witness is a notary public or a lawyer. 

  • The attorney must also sign the amendment in front of two witnesses. You and your attorney do not have to sign at the same time. 

  • If your power of attorney deals with real property, you must sign the amendment in the presence of a lawyer or notary, and the lawyer or notary must also sign.

Who can be a witness

A person can’t witness a signature if they are being appointed as the attorney, or if they are a spouse, child, or parent of the attorney. Nor can a person witness your signature if they’re employed by the attorney, unless you’re appointing a lawyer, notary public, the Public Guardian and Trustee, or a financial institution as your attorney. 

The change takes effect when notice is given to everyone required. Or if you want to specify a future date when it will take effect, you need to say so in your amendment.

Step 2. Give notice to your attorney(s)

You must give written notice of the amendment to each attorney. Attach a copy of the amendment to the notice.

You should also give notice to any alternate attorneys.

If you want to be sure that someone received the notice, you can send the notice by registered mail.

Step 3. Give a copy of the notice to anyone you gave the power of attorney

If you gave a copy of the power of attorney to a bank or other financial institution, send them a copy of the notice of amendment.

If you filed your power of attorney with the land title office, you must also file your notice with them and amended document with them.

End a power of attorney

Step 1. Put your decision in writing

Put your decision to end your power of attorney in writing. The written decision is called a notice of revocation. You can use wording like this:

I,__________________ [your name], revoke the power of attorney that I made on ___________ [date power of attorney was signed] that appointed the following people ________________[name of your attorney(s)] as my attorney. Date: _____________________ Signature: _________________

Sign and date the notice of revocation.

The revocation takes effect when the notice is given to everyone required. Or you can specify (in the notice of revocation) a date in the future when it will take effect. 

Notice of revocation form

Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry provides detailed information on revoking a power of attorney. A blank notice of revocation form is included. 

Step 2. Give notice to your attorney(s)

Give a signed and dated copy of the notice of revocation to each attorney appointed in your power of attorney

You should also give notice to any alternate attorneys.

If you want to be sure that someone received the notice, you can send the notice by registered mail.

Step 3. Give a copy of the notice to anyone you gave the power of attorney

If you gave a copy of the power of attorney to a bank or other financial institution, send them a copy of the notice of revocation.

If you filed your power of attorney with the land title office, you must also file your notice with them. 

Step 4. If you make a new power of attorney, say in it that you have revoked your old one

If you make a new power of attorney, you should say in it that you have revoked your old one. Include the date when the old document was originally signed, and when it was revoked.

Common questions

What you can I do if someone misuses my power of attorney?

Misusing a power of attorney is a crime. If your attorney abuses his or her power, end the power of attorney immediately. You should seek legal advice. You may be able to sue your attorney to get back any assets that have been stolen. 

If you are mentally incapable, you cannot revoke your power of attorney. You or someone else can call the Public Guardian and Trustee or a designated agency and report the situation. They will investigate.

My attorney has a new address. Do I need to prepare a new power of attorney?

You don’t have to prepare a new power of attorney every time an attorney’s address, phone number, or legal name changes.

On a separate piece of paper, make a note of the change. For example, if your attorney has moved, write down their name and new address. Attach this to your original power of attorney document (use a paperclip, not a staple). Also, attach any proof of the change, such as a copy of a legal name change document.

Don’t make any changes to the original document — this may make it invalid.

More on where your attorney lives

The person you name as your attorney doesn’t have to live in BC. But if your attorney moves out of the province, have a think about whether they’re still the best person for the job. Consider what you’re asking them to do. Sometimes it’s more convenient for your attorney to live close by.

I want someone else to act as my attorney. Should I end my existing power of attorney?

If you want to change who your attorney is, it’s always open to you to revoke your existing power of attorney and make a new one (as long as you’re capable of doing so). But there are other options, depending on the circumstances.

If you only have one attorney and:

  • You have an alternate named in your power of attorney, your attorney can resign and your alternate can step in. Your alternate continues to act under your existing document.

  • You don't have an alternate, you'll need to end your power of attorney. You can then prepare a new document, appointing the person you want as attorney.

If you have multiple attorneys, check to see what your power of attorney document says. For example, if your attorneys can make decisions independently, you may be able to ask one attorney to resign, so that the other attorney(s) can continue to act. If you’re not sure what to do, consider seeking legal advice.

Who can help

Helpful agencies

Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre & Registry
Detailed information on personal planning, including template forms.
Public Guardian and Trustee
Can investigate the misuse of a power of attorney involving vulnerable adults.
Alzheimer Society of BC
Support for British Columbians with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

  • Reviewed in February 2019
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Time to read: 9 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Kevin Smith, Retired lawyer and consultant

Kevin Smith

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