Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney in Maryland
Power of attorney (POA) is a legal document which creates a principal-agent relationship. In POA, a person (“Principal”) gives another person or persons (“Agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact”) legal authority to act on behalf of Principal in his/her* financial* affairs.
Depending on the powers granted, Power of Attorney may be General or Limited (specific). The Agent may be authorized to handle banking transactions, stock and bond management, real estate transactions, initiate gift giving program, and other financial affairs on behalf of the Principal.
In Maryland, to become effective, a Power of Attorney must be in writing, signed by Principal in presence of two witnesses, and notarized.
POA operates while the Principal is alive, can be revoked at any time, and terminates upon the Principal’s death.
A power of attorney does not grant the Agent the power to make health care or medical decisions for the principal. To designate an agent to handle your medical and health affairs, you will need to execute an Advance Medical Directive and/or a living will.
Responsibilities of an Agent or Attorney-in-Fact
An Agent is a fiduciary who has a responsibility to act in the best interest of the principal. The Agent must maintain his or her own finances separate from the principal’s finances.
Durable Power of Attorney
Durable Power of Attorney authorizes Agent to make financial decisions and continue to manage accounts even if the principal becomes incapacitated or disabled.
If a power of attorney is not durable, it may become ineffective upon principal’s incapacity. In this event, a guardianship proceeding may be necessary to appoint a guardian for an incapacitated principal.
Power of Attorney Effective Period
Power of Attorney becomes effective as soon as the principal signs the form unless the POA directs otherwise. In Maryland, a Power of Attorney may be “springing,” i.e, becomes effective upon a future event or upon the principal’s incapacity.
Benefits of Establishing a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney may ensure that the Principal’s financial interests are managed by an entrusted individual. However, if there is no power of attorney in place and an individual’s physical or mental issues prevent him or her from managing his or her financial affairs, the courts may need to step in to appoint a guardian. This process is time-consuming and expensive. By comparison, setting up a power of attorney is quick and easy.
Please contact Avrine Law Firm, LLC for more information on Power of Attorney as a stand- along document as well as a part of an Estate Planning package.
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