Over a decade ago, each attorney or law firm had their own unique financial power of attorney. However, the problem was that financial institutions could (and would) dishonor a financial power of attorney for no discernible reason.
That all changed when Maryland enacted sweeping financial powers of attorney rules that went into effect on October 1, 2010. From that point forward, Maryland adopted two financial power of attorney forms.
If the form you use is in “substantial compliance” with one of the two statutory forms, then the financial institution must honor it.
Maryland General Power of Attorney and Maryland Limited Power of Attorney
There are many differences between the two Maryland financial power of attorney forms: the Maryland General Power of Attorney (8 pages) and the Maryland Limited Power of Attorney (16 pages). The main difference is that the Maryland Limited Power of Attorney is much more robust than the Maryland General and affords the power of attorney holder a much wider and more useful set of powers than afforded in the Maryland General.
Problems with Internet-driven Powers of Attorney
One of the big issues that I see with Internet-driven powers of attorney (besides the execution issue), is often they do not conform with the Maryland standard power of attorney. Therefore, you are powerless if a financial institution refuses to honor it.
Another huge issue is that the Internet documents are often not nearly as robust as the Maryland statutory forms. It’s as problematic as taking out a rowboat that has half a dozen holes in it. The issue is even worse if a parent was competent at the time the first document was signed, then when you need to use it, you find out there are problems. But, by this point, it may be too late to have a parent sign a new power of attorney, especially if they are no longer competent to sign a new one.
Elder Law Attorney Ensures Proper Financial Power of Attorney
The first document I review when a family comes for a consultation regarding their parent or loved one is the financial power of attorney. I typically know in the first few minutes of the consultation if the document they have is going to help facilitate what we want to do or be a problem.
Don’t try to do this on your own. Have an experienced elder law attorney review your issue and draft a proper financial power of attorney that is robust to handle just about every situation. It is my practice to go through this document with you section by section and explain how each section is used, from a practical point of view.