How to Get a Power of Attorney in Maryland

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

How to Get a Power of Attorney in Maryland

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants decision-making authority to an agent or attorney-in-fact. The principal is the person giving the authority, and the agent is the person accepting the authority. The agent does not actually need to be an attorney—just an individual the principal trusts.

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Power of Attorney Basics

A power of attorney can cover many areas: financial affairs, healthcare treatment, real estate transactions, or other important life matters. A power of attorney can be general or more limited in scope. For example, an agent can receive authorization to manage the principal's entire financial portfolio (with a general power of attorney), or they can accept permission to manage a specific bank account. The principal decides exactly what and how much authority an agent gets; even though the principal grants this authority to the agent, they retain the ability to make decisions themselves.

Generally, a power of attorney terminates if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated. If the principal wants to ensure it remains in effect even if they become incapacitated, they can include a durability clause. A durable power of attorney remains in effect until revoked or upon the death of the principal. In Maryland, unless otherwise noted, all powers of attorney are considered durable.

Drafting a Power of Attorney in Maryland

The Maryland legislature passed the Maryland General and Limited Power of Attorney Act in 2010. This statute sets forth the requirements for both the principal and the agent.

1. Select an agent.

First and foremost, you must select a trusted person to be your agent. You may also select a second agent to fill in if the first agent is no longer able to do so. Agents have a great responsibility, so selecting someone you trust is critical.

2. Determine the power of attorney type and scope.

Do you want a financial power of attorney or healthcare power of attorney? Do you want to give broad authority to your agent, or do you want to enumerate specific powers more limited in scope? If you want an agent to make decisions regarding both finances and healthcare, you must have two separate power of attorney documents; under Maryland law, a single document that purports to grant both types is not legally valid.

3. Create a power of attorney document.

Any document that grants authority to another person to act on behalf of yourself can be a power of attorney. However, Maryland has created a specific kind of power of attorney, called a Statutory Form Limited Power of Attorney, and has a template available for use. Alternatively, an online service provider can help you create a power of attorney. In the document, the principal should be as specific as possible about what kind of authority the power of attorney grants.

4. Execute the power of attorney.

In order to finalize the power of attorney, the principal must sign the document in front of a notary public and two adult witnesses. The witnesses must also sign the document in front of the principal. Unless otherwise noted, the power of attorney immediately takes effect upon execution.

A power of attorney grants an agent or attorney-in-fact the authority to make important decisions for the principal. It can be a broad, or general, power of attorney, or it can be a limited power of attorney, which permits the agent to make only certain kinds of decisions, manage specific accounts, or carry out particular transactions. Maryland's Office of the Attorney General provides a template for a limited power of attorney.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.