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Suppose A is on in years and grants B power of attorney for them to assist in managing their affairs. Then A comes to distrust B and would rather reassign the power of attorney to C. Can B block, contest or otherwise resist this on any grounds?

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In the US, the laws governing a Power of Attorney (PoA) vary by state. But in general, the principal (grantor) can always revoke a PoA, or grant a new PoA to a different person which supersedes the previous PoA, provided that s/he is mentally competent to do so. If A has given a PoA to B, and indicates a desire to cancel it and give a PoA to C instead, and B thinks that A is not competent and this decision will not be in B's best interests, then B can petition for A to be declared incompetent, and have a guardian appointed for A.

That requires a court order, based on evidence about A's mental condition. A guardian functions in some ways like the holder of a PoA, being able to act for the principal (here called a "ward"). But a guardian has much more control over the ward, and the ward cannot dismiss a guardian. It takes another court order to do that.

Having a guardian appointed is a very serious step, and courts do not do it lightly.

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  • Okay, so: just to clarify: a) how materially would this be liable to vary by state? And, b) the only way for B to obstruct the revocation of their power of attorney on behalf of A would be to have A declared incompetent and a ward of some other party who would then need to object to A's revocation of B's power of attorney with respect to A. Aug 10, 2022 at 17:13
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    @Joseph P. a) I am not sure, I would need to check the laws of several states and see how they vary. Probably they are rather similar. b) To the best of my understanding, yes. Aug 10, 2022 at 17:16
  • Thanks; what state(s) are your answer based on then? Aug 10, 2022 at 17:42
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    I have had personal experience with the PoA process in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. I have read news stories and other accounts that refer to the process in other states, but have not gone into the details there. Aug 10, 2022 at 17:45
  • @DavidSiegel A normal (non-enduring) PoA ends immediately the grantee is no longer competent in most jurisdictions
    – Dale M
    Aug 10, 2022 at 22:25
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A can end their Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) with B, if they have the mental capacity to make the decision to do so, by sending to the Office of the Public Guardian:

  • the original LPA

  • a written statement called a " deed of revocation" [Source].

Once revoked, A is able to appoint C if they so wish.

If A lacks the required capacity and then, as per the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice an application may be made to Court of Protection:

7.45 The Court of Protection has a range of powers to:

  • determine whether an LPA is valid

  • give directions about using the LPA, and

  • to remove an attorney (for example, if the attorney does not act in the best interests of the donor)

...

8.7 The person making the application will vary depending on the circumstances1.

So... the only legal route (that I can find) for B to contest their revocation as LPA would be to argue their case before the Court of Protection for a determination in their favour.


1too numerous to repoduce here - see the MCA Code at page 140 et seq

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  • Why do you think this did not appear in my inbox? Aug 10, 2022 at 13:23
  • Just to clarify: I was more interested in answers pertaining to the United States, but hopefully this will also benefit someone as well. Aug 10, 2022 at 13:24
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    "Even if you supply a jurisdiction tag, we expect and encourage answers dealing with other jurisdictions – while it might not answer your question directly, your question will be here for others who may be from those jurisdictions. If you do this, please tag your answer using the tag markdown: [tag: some-tag]". From the Help centre
    – user35069
    Aug 10, 2022 at 13:28
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    Oh, absolutely! I had not meant at all to discourage this practice! Aug 10, 2022 at 13:30
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    In fact I find it really interesting to see the juxtaposed comparisons of the situations in various different jurisdictions. Aug 10, 2022 at 13:31

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