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In Maryland and other jurisdictions, more than one type of power of attorney is available for estate planning. Despite the ability to cover a wide range of circumstances, a general power of attorney loses its effect when the individual who granted the power becomes incapacitated. A durable power of attorney, however, remains in effect after the maker becomes incapacitated.

Many states provide for a a so called "springing" power of attorney; they do not actually take effect until a later date, when a specified event occurs. One such potential occurrence is the incapacity of the maker. Some attorneys do not recommend this type of power of attorney because it is sometimes difficult to formally establish when a person has become incapacitated. Moreover, some doctors are loathe to make that determination in writing for fear that legal action may result. Further, it is possible that a person may float in and out of incapacity,  raising questions concerning the effectiveness of the power of attorney.

As soon as someone has a power of attorney in place, the maker should give copies of it to any company where they do business -- especially financial institutions. This way, the maker can find out in advance if there is a problem with the power of attorney or if there are other forms required by the institution involved. If handled in this manner, there is typically time to correct any problems before the need arises.

Attorneys in Maryland can help determine which type of power of attorney may be appropriate for each specific situation. It is usually possible to take care of the details quickly once a decision has been made. Those individuals and families facing these important issues will likely benefit from the advice and support of an attorney whose legal practice is focused on estate planning.

Source: fedweek.com, "Benefits of a Durable Power of Attorney", Aug. 6, 2015

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