Baltimore Law Firm Experienced with Advanced Directives
Maryland Estate Planning Lawyers Help Clients Designate Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that outlines who will have the authority to act for you should you become unable to act for yourself. The person granting the power of attorney is called the “principal,” and the person given the power of attorney is known as either the “agent,” or the “attorney in fact.” A power of attorney limits the power that the principal gives to the agent and does not take away the principal’s ability to act, only giving the agent power to act for the principal.
Types of Powers of Attorney
There are several distinctive types of powers of attorney, including:
- Statutory form power of attorney. The Maryland General and Limited Power of Attorney Act proves two statutory forms that allow people to grant powers of attorney to others regarding financial and other matters.
- General power of attorney. A general power of attorney gives a designee the authority to act for the principal in all business and personal matters.
- Limited power of attorney. A limited power of attorney grants only the powers outlined in the document, typically certain financial, real estate, banking, and contractual matters.
- Springing power of attorney. A springing power of attorney gives the agent power to act only after a certain triggering event occurs, such as when the principal becomes disabled.
- Health care power of attorney. Also known as a health care surrogacy or proxy, a health care power of attorney gives someone the power to make medical decisions for another person, whether or not they are at the end of their life.
- Durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney allows someone else to manage your business affairs should you become incapacitated due to physical or mental illness. It is common for people to name their spouse as their durable power of attorney and designate one of their children as alternate. A durable power of attorney
Power of attorney documents should be as specific as possible to make it more likely that they will be honored. While a conventional power of attorney ends when the principal becomes too incapacitated to make decisions for themselves, a durable power of attorney enables the agent to act for the principal when they become too incapacitated to act for themselves and is effective until revoked or until the principal’s death.
An advanced medical directive outlines your wishes for the medical care provided when you are near death, should your condition render you unable to express them yourself. These directives will make your desires known regarding potentially life-prolonging treatments like cardiopulmonary resuscitation, tube feeding, dialysis, mechanical ventilation, pain medication, comfort care, and organ donation. Under the Maryland Health Care Decision Act, the person appointed to make health care decisions for the principal is known as a "health care agent."
Unless specified otherwise, an advance directive takes effect when the person becomes too ill to make an informed decision about their care. If the patient is unconscious or not able to communicate, then the attending doctor may determine that the advance directive is in effect. Otherwise, two doctors must certify that the patient is incapable of making an informed decision regarding their treatment.