Maryland Laws Regarding Wills & Power of Attorney

By River Braun, J.D.

Maryland Laws Regarding Wills & Power of Attorney

By River Braun, J.D.

Powers of attorney and wills are legal documents recognized under Maryland laws. A power of attorney grants an agent authority to act in your name during your lifetime, but that authority ends when you pass away. In contrast, a will becomes effective upon death and dictates how your estate is distributed to your heirs. Because they accomplish different goals, many people use both documents to create a comprehensive estate plan.

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Maryland laws are very specific about the elements required in a will and power of attorney. The laws are also very specific about the steps that you must take to revoke a power of attorney or a will.

Creating a Valid Will in Maryland

The person creating the will is the testator (male) or testatrix (female). You can choose any person, charity, or legal entity as an heir. Your will directs how your property will be distributed to your heirs. To ensure that your wishes are carried out, you appoint an executor or personal representative to administer the estate. The administrator pays your final bills, distributes property, and files the necessary paperwork with the probate court to conclude your estate.

If you pass away without a will, Maryland's intestate laws direct how your property will be distributed. The intestate laws determine who can be an heir and what share of the property they are entitled to receive.

For a will to be valid, you must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind when you sign the document. A will signed because of threats or undue pressure can be overturned in court. Maryland law also requires that two witnesses sign the will with the testator.

Revoking a Will in Maryland

Maryland laws provide four ways for you to revoke a will:

  • You can draft and properly execute a new will.
  • You can expressly consent to the physical destruction of the original will.
  • If you marry or remarry and have a child after you execute a will, your will can be revoked by the child after you pass away.
  • If you get divorced after you execute a will, all the provisions related to your ex-spouse are invalidated.

Creating a Power of Attorney in Maryland

You (as the principal) can appoint another person to act as your agent to make decisions on your behalf pursuant to the terms of a written power of attorney. To be recognized as valid, the power of attorney must be in writing and signed by you, your agent, two witnesses, and a notary public.

There are three basic powers of attorney recognized in Maryland:

  • A general power of attorney gives your agent authority to make decisions and act on your behalf regarding financial matters and property.
  • Durable powers of attorney or medical directives give your agent the authority to act on your behalf if you become disabled or incompetent.
  • A limited power of attorney gives your agent the power to act on a specific transaction or for a limited time.

Revoking a Power of Attorney in Maryland

You can revoke a power of attorney in several ways under Maryland law. You can physically destroy—rip, tear, or shred—the original power of attorney to take back the powers granted to the agent. You can also execute a document rescinding the authority granted to your agent, or you can execute a new power of attorney granting powers to another agent.

General and limited powers of attorney are invalidated if you become disabled or incapacitated. A durable power of attorney remains effective even after you become incapacitated. Limited powers of attorney typically state when and how the agent's authority is terminated.

Maryland's will and power of attorney laws are always subject to change, so be sure to talk with an estate-planning attorney before starting your estate plan.

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.