A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself. Powers of attorney are commonly used in Maryland for healthcare and financial decisions. Here’s what you need to know:
Types of Powers of Attorney
There are a few main types of powers of attorney in Maryland:
- General – Gives broad authority over financial, business, and healthcare matters.
- Limited – Only gives authority for specific matters outlined in the document. Often used for healthcare decisions.
- Durable – The POA remains in effect even if you become incapacitated. Includes language like “This power of attorney shall not be affected by disability or incapacity of the principal.”
- Springing – Only takes effect upon a certain event, like incapacitation. The document should specify who can validate when the event has occurred.
Creating a Valid Power of Attorney
To create a valid power of attorney in Maryland, the document must:
- Be written and physically signed by the principal (person granting authority)
- Be witnessed by two adults and a notary public
- Follow state requirements if using digital signatures
- Clearly define powers granted to the agent (the person getting authority)
The agent does not need to be a lawyer but should be someone trustworthy. Consider discussing your power of attorney with an estate planning attorney before finalizing.
Activating and Using the Power of Attorney
The agent can begin using their powers as soon as the document is signed unless you create a springing power of attorney. Under a springing POA, the document doesn’t become effective until the contingency defined in the document takes place. We encourage clients to be careful drafting springing POA’s as third parties may not accept these documents if they are concerned that the contingency has not occurred, or the contingency’s occurance can’t be documented.
To exercise authority, the agent must provide a copy of the document to any relevant third parties like banks. Third parties are required to accept valid powers of attorney but may refuse if implementation standards are not met.
Paying the Agent
An agent is not automatically entitled to compensation but can be reimbursed for reasonable expenses. The document can also outline specific payment instructions for the agent’s services.
Powers of attorney are versatile tools for protecting your healthcare and financial choices if you become incapacitated. With proper legal preparation, you can craft a tailored document to meet your needs.