powers of attorney

Why It Is Important To Update Your Powers Of Attorney

Updating your Power of Attorney (POA) in Pennsylvania is an important legal step to ensure that your affairs will be handled according to your current wishes in case you cannot decide for yourself. Whether your life circumstances have changed due to marriage, divorce, a move, or simply the passage of time, reviewing and updating your POA to reflect your current preferences and legal requirements is crucial. This process involves revoking the old document, creating a new one that accurately represents your current situation, and appointing a trusted individual to act on your behalf. By keeping your Power of Attorney up-to-date, you can know that your financial, health, and legal matters will be in capable hands should the need arise.

Reasons To Update Your Powers of Attorney

  • Changes in Personal Circumstances: If your circumstances change, such as marriage, divorce, relocation, or the birth of a child, you might need to update your POA to reflect your current situation and preferences. For example, you may want to appoint a new agent (the person authorized to act on your behalf) if your previous agent is no longer a part of your life or you no longer trust them to make decisions in your best interest. The effectiveness of a POA depends significantly on the trust between you and your agent. Suppose your relationship with your existing agent has deteriorated, or has moved away, become ill, or died. In that case, updating your POA to appoint someone capable and willing to take on this responsibility is crucial.
  • Changes in Law: States periodically update their laws regarding powers of attorney. Staying compliant with current legislation ensures your POA is valid and enforceable. For example, Pennsylvania amended its Power of Attorney Law when the Governor signed Act 95 at the end of 2014. To make sure the power of attorney document is genuine, any power of attorney signed on or after January 1, 2015, must be notarized, and two other persons over 18 years must witness the document, neither of whom is the agent. This formal process helps ensure the document’s authenticity and protects against fraud. In addition, before acting, the agent must sign a revised acknowledgment agreeing to abide by specific mandatory duties, including a requirement to operate following the principal’s reasonable expectations and only within the scope of authority granted in the power of attorney. These changes applied to powers signed on or after January 1, 2015. 
  • Specificity and Clarity: Over time, you might realize that your initial POA does not clearly articulate your wishes or cover specific scenarios relevant to your situation. Updating your POA allows you to clarify your instructions and provide detailed guidance to your agent, which can help prevent confusion and disputes in the future.
  • Financial and Medical Decisions: If you initially set up a POA for financial decisions but now wish to address healthcare decisions (or vice versa), updating your POA or creating a separate Healthcare Power of Attorney can be crucial. In Pennsylvania, a healthcare power of attorney and living will make up an “advance health care directive,” separate from a financial power of attorney.
  • Durability: In Pennsylvania, a POA is considered “durable” unless it specifically states otherwise, meaning it remains effective even if you become incapacitated. 


Updating your power of attorney ensures that your document remains effective, reflects your current wishes, and complies with Pennsylvania law. It is advisable to consult with an experienced attorney who can provide personalized advice and ensure that your POA meets all of the legal requirements in Pennsylvania. The law firm of Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace has experienced attorneys who can help make sure your power of attorney documents are in order. Contact our office today.