Maryland Estate Planning Lawyers Assist Clients with POAs

Baltimore Law Firm Focuses on Power of Attorney Documents

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that designates a person to act as someone’s agent (or attorney-in-fact) if they become unable to speak for themselves. The person who grants the power of attorney to someone else is called the principal, and the person who is given the power is known as the agent or attorney-in-fact. A POA does not take away the principal’s power to act; instead, it gives the agent the power to act for the principal. 

POAs can be general or limited. While a general POA gives a person authority to act for the principal in all business and personal matters, a limited POA gives the agent only the powers that are defined in the document.  There are generally two types of POAs:

  • Medical. Also known as a power of attorney for health or medical power of attorney, a health care power of attorney gives someone the power to make medical decisions for another person when they become too ill to make decisions about their own care. To appoint someone to make medical decisions on their behalf, a person needs to complete a Maryland Advance Form. In Maryland, a medical POA is combined with a living will to form an advance directive. 

  • Financial. To give another individual the right to conduct your business affairs should you become unable to do so due to illness or mental incapacity, you must complete the Maryland Power of Attorney Form. Power of attorney for business affairs will automatically end when you die, so if you want to give someone the authority to manage your affairs after your death you should make a will.

Both medical and financial POAs are usually effective immediately, unless they expressly state that they will take effect later.

Maryland POA Requirements

For a POA to be valid in Maryland, it must meet certain requirements:

  • The principal must be of sound mind as determined by Maryland courts.

  • Two people who are not named as agents must witness the signature. 

  • It must be signed before a notary public.

In Maryland, written POAs are assumed to be durable, meaning that they remain in effect after the principal becomes incapacitated, unless it is explicitly stated that the POA will terminate when they become incapacitated. POAs typically end at the time of death or if they are revoked by the principal, no agent is available and a successor or alternate agent was not named, or a court declares the document invalid due to fraud, undue influence, or mental incompetence on the part of the principal. If someone named their spouse as their agent, the designation automatically ends if either spouse files for divorce. Although the ex-spouse’s authority to act as the agent ends, the POA will remain intact if a successor was named.

Contact an Experienced Maryland Power of Attorney Law Firm

A POA is a very critical part of any Maryland estate plan. Contact Atkinson Law online or call 410-882-9595 (Baltimore office) or 443-384-0013 (Bel Air Office) to schedule your initial consultation to discuss your estate planning issues, including POAs, today.