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How to Make a Power of Attorney in Maryland FAQ

Written by: Catherine Hodder, Esq. , Senior Legal Writer
Reviewed by: Madison Hess, J.D. , Legal Writer
Last updated May 15, 2024

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A power of attorney helps you when you can’t manage your own legal and financial affairs. Learn about how to create a valid Maryland power of attorney document.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Power of Attorney?

power of attorney (POA) in Maryland is a legal document that authorizes an agent to act on behalf of the principal in matters as specified within the document. There are different types of power of attorney documents. A financial power of attorney covers financial decisions and legal matters. You may authorize your agent to pay bills, access bank accounts, or apply for social security benefits. For medical decisions and health care matters, you name a health care agent in a Maryland advance directive.

Who Can Be My Agent?

In Maryland, your agent can be any competent adult whom you trust to handle your financial matters. You can choose a family member, friend, accountant, or attorney. The agent must act according to the principal’s instructions and has a fiduciary duty to act in the principal’s best interest. Avoid naming co-agents, as it may be tricky if they disagree or contradict each other. It is better to name a primary agent and a backup or successor agent if your first choice of agent is unable to serve.

What Can My Agent Do in Maryland?

You decide what powers you want to grant your agent. Under the Maryland General and Limited Power of Attorney Act, you can give your agent the power to handle:

  • Real estate (real property) transactions
  • Stock and bond transactions
  • Banking transactions
  • Insurance transactions
  • Lawsuits
  • Government benefits
  • Retirement plans
  • Tax matters
  • Your emails, electronic communications, and other digital assets
  • Trust and estate transactions

You should also decide if you want your agent to make gifts from your assets to benefit themselves or others, which could mean your immediate family or charitable organizations. You can specify in your power of attorney who can receive gifts and limit the amounts.

Additionally, you may want your agent to have the power to reduce your estate to qualify you for government benefits or minimize estate taxes. If so, you must specifically state it in your power of attorney document. For example, you may allow your agent to:

Open a joint account with you and one or more other people as account owners

Create or change rights of survivorship

Think carefully about what powers you want your agent to have as they exercise broad control over your property and assets.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney in Maryland?

durable power of attorney means the POA remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated. This ensures that the agent can continue to manage the principal’s affairs without the need for court intervention.

When Is the Power of Attorney Effective?

In Maryland, a power of attorney is typically effective upon execution. However, you can also specify a different effective date or event that triggers its activation, such as your incapacity.

When Does the Power of Attorney End?

Your power of attorney ends upon your death or if you revoke it prior to your death if you are competent. There are other events when your power of attorney ends, and your agent’s authority terminates, such as:

  • The agent dies or is incapacitated, and there is no backup or successor agent
  • There is a specified termination date or event, and the date or event occurs
  • If your agent is your spouse and you divorce or a court terminates your marriage, their authority ends.

It’s a good idea to have a backup agent to take over if your primary agent is unwilling or unavailable to serve.

Does Maryland Have a Statutory Power of Attorney?

Yes. Maryland has a statutory power of attorney forms for a personal financial power of attorney and a limited power of attorney in §17-202 and §17-203 of the Maryland General and Limited Power of Attorney Act, respectively. However, you do not have to use the statutory form as there are limitations. You can create your own power of attorney document customized to your needs or hire an estate planning attorney.

Can I Make My Own Power of Attorney in Maryland?

Yes. If you know who you want as your agent and what powers you want to grant them, you can make your own power of attorney document using state-specific online estate planning forms. However, if you have questions about powers of attorney, you may want to consult them for legal advice.

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How Do I Make My Power of Attorney Valid in Maryland?

To make a valid Maryland power of attorney, you must be 18 years old or older and competent. Your POA must be in writing, signed by you or another whom you direct, and acknowledged in front of a notary public and two witnesses.

Do I Have to Notarize My Power of Attorney in Maryland?

Yes. A notary public must attest to your signature for your power of attorney to be valid in Maryland.

What Should I Do After Signing My Power of Attorney?

After you sign and notarize your power of attorney, give copies to your agent and any third parties that you want to have notice of your power of attorney. A third party, such as a bank or financial institution, may want your agent to complete an agent certification form in which they attest that the POA is effective and they have the authority as your agent.

Does a Power of Attorney Agent Get Paid in Maryland?

Your agent may receive reimbursement of reasonable expenses for acting under this power of attorney. However, your agent may be only entitled to reasonable compensation for their time if you authorize it in your power of attorney document.

Is My Maryland Power of Attorney Valid in Another State?

Yes. Generally, other states accept a Maryland power of attorney if created and executed according to Maryland law.

Can I Revoke My Maryland Power of Attorney?

Yes. You may revoke your power of attorney at any time if you are mentally competent. To revoke a power of attorney, you make a written statement known as a “Revocation of Power of Attorney,” Sign your document in front of a notary, and give copies to your agent(s) and to all third parties that have your original power of attorney document.

What Estate Planning Documents Should I Have in Maryland?

A power of attorney is a critical document when you can’t manage your finances due to incapacity or other disability. However, there are two other documents to consider for a complete estate plan:

An advance directive lets you name a health care agent to obtain your medical records and make healthcare decisions when you are unable to do so. It may also be called a medical power of attorney or a living will. You can also include instructions on life-prolonging measures you want to give or withhold when you have an end-stage illness or terminal condition.

last will and testament lets you appoint someone to handle your estate, give property to your beneficiaries, and name guardians to care for your minor children. If you don’t make a will, you die “intestate,” and a probate court follows state law for distributing your assets and you and your loved ones may not like the result. A will streamlines the probate process and gives you peace of mind that your family is protected.

Fortunately, it is easy to make a valid power of attorney and create other Maryland estate planning documents with online estate planning templates.

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