Baum Law Offices, LLC – Attorney Matthew Baum

Maryland Power of Attorney FAQ

The following are questions that I a frequently hear from clients concerning powers of attorney and how they are created, used, and destroyed in Maryland. In the event you are planning to give or receive power of attorney, you are strongly advised to speak with a lawyer.

What is a power of attorney?

A Maryland power of attorney is a legal document with which someone grants the power to do business as himself to another individual. The person who gives the power is called the principal. The person who receives the power is called the agent.

What is the difference between a general power of attorney and a limited power of attorney?

Maryland Power of Attorney

A power of attorney can be either general or limited in the power that it confers. A general power of attorney grants broad powers to an agent to conduct all types of personal financial business, including opening and closing bank accounts, changing insurance policies, changing retirement account beneficiaries, and similar actions. A limited power of attorney can specify exactly which powers should be granted to the agent. For example, a limited power of attorney may grant the agent the power during a limited period of time to effect the sale of one particular piece of real estate.

How long does a Maryland power of attorney last?

The answer depends on the specific language of the document. A power of attorney can last as long as the principal and agent are alive, or it can be drafted to expire on a particular date. It’s important for the principal to give careful consideration to when he wants the power to expire.

When does power of attorney take effect?

A power of attorney can be drafted to take effect immediately or to take effect at a later date. Some power of attorney documents are drafted to take effect only when the principal is unable to take care of his own business. This kind of power of attorney may grant legal power to the agent only when the principal incapacitated, missing and presumed dead, out of the country, away due to military deployment, or under similar circumstances.

Who should I pick as an agent for my power of attorney?

The short answer is pick someone you trust to do business for you. That person should be trustworthy and reliable. Keep in mind that this person will represent you and your interests in dealings with banks, insurance companies, lawyers, and in other business matters. It’s helpful to choose someone with good administrative capabilities. Ideally your personal representative should be the same person that your last will and testament names as the administrator of your estate.

Which powers should I grant to my agent?

In order to get answer this question you should speak with an attorney. The best answer would take into account your age, health, intended purposes for the power of attorney, type of property you own, type of accounts in your name, details about the person you are choosing to be your agent, and numerous other facts and circumstances. In general, it’s best to grant all of the powers you will need your agent to have in order to take care of your interests, but no more powers than are necessary.

Can I use a blank Maryland power of attorney form?

If you fill out a the statutory form have it executed in accordance with Maryland law then you have effectively transferred power of attorney to your designated agent. The problem with using the form without consulting a lawyer is that you may not be using the form in a safe manner. Keep in mind that granting power of attorney to someone can come with major financial consequences. I encourage you to discuss your needs with a lawyer. A lawyer can help you by creating a document that will safely suit your individual needs.

When does a power of attorney end?

A power of attorney document expires on its expiration date if one is indicated on the document, or a power of attorney ends if the principal or the agent dies. Power of attorney can also end when the principal destroys the power of attorney document, or when the principal gives power of attorney to someone else.

What is a medical power of attorney?

A medical power of attorney is sometimes called an advance healthcare directive or an advance care directive. This document allows the principal to appoint an agent to make sure that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals abide by his wishes. This document usually records the principal’s choices concerning end of life medical treatment, pain relief, and other important medical decisions.

What is the Maryland statutory form power of attorney?

Maryland has passed the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. Maryland law provides some model forms for power of attorney. When a power of attorney document is substantially similar to these forms and meets other requirements under Maryland law, individuals must honor the power of attorney. If the power of attorney is statutorily compliant and specific as to the power to be exercised by the agent,  a person or business who refuses to accept the power of attorney can be held accountable in court. Under the Code, a person or business who fails to honor a correctly done power of attorney can be liable to the principal for costs incurred by him to have the power of attorney enforced. This may include reasonable attorney fees.

Matthew Baum is a Maryland attorney who creates power of attorney documents as a part of his estate planning practice. His office can be reached at (410) 929-3435.