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What is a Maine Power of Attorney?

A Maine power of attorney is a legal document that acts as the authorization for a person, referred to as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to make financial decisions, healthcare decisions, real estate decisions, or estate decisions on behalf of the person granting this authority. A Maine POA is most commonly used as an estate planning tool, but there are many other instances when it is a useful tool.

Quick Reference:

The person granting permission is referred to as the principal, donor, or grantor.

The person receiving authorization is referred to as the agent or attorney-in-fact.

ME POA Laws:

A Maine power of attorney must comply with the Maine Uniform Power of Attorney Act found in Maine Revised Statutes Title 18A. This act specifically outlines the parameters of a legally enforceable power of attorney. It ensures that the form, as well as its duties, are protected under the law. Some of its requirements include:

  • The principal must be of sound mind and capable of making their own decisions.
  • The principal must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The principal must sign the POA in the presence of a notary public or two adult witnesses.
  • The power of attorney must use certain notices and language found in 18A M.R.S.A § 5-905 if it is durable.

The principal can specifically state which powers the agent can and cannot use on their behalf. The principal can revoke (terminate) the power of attorney, even if it is durable, as long as they are competent. Additionally, the power of attorney is terminated when:

  • The principal dies.
  • The principal becomes incapacitated and the power of attorney is not durable.
  • The purpose of the power of attorney is fulfilled or its expiration date passes.
  • The agent dies, becomes incapacitated, or resigns and there is no co-agent or successor agent named.
  • The principal and agent are married and they file for divorce, legal separation, or annulment and the power of attorney does not specifically state that the fiduciary relationship remains in effect.  

Why Would You Use a Maine Power of Attorney Form?

There are many reasons why someone would use a Maine power of attorney form to give someone else the ability to make decisions related to their tangible personal property, financial institution transactions, tax matters, or their well-being. Some of those reasons include:

  • Their age, mental health, or the diagnosis of an illness. They could want their affairs handled in specific ways. It is generally advised that everyone, including those in perfect health and those diagnosed with a terminal illness, establish the proper powers of attorney to ensure their affairs are properly handled and that their wishes are fulfilled.
  • A person with a mental illness may need a different power of attorney than a person with a terminal illness.
  • A person with minor children may need a different power of attorney than a person who does not have minor children.

The need for a power of attorney can vary from person to person. Thankfully, there are several types available. Before you decide to use one, seek legal advice to ensure you choose the best POA to meet your needs. You should also ask about how to revoke a POA in the event it becomes necessary. Here are the most commonly used Maine powers of attorney.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney grants power to the agent to make decisions on the principal’s behalf.

  • However, this authorization terminates if the principal becomes incapacitated, dies, or if the principal revokes the document.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is an "extended version" of a general power of attorney because it goes beyond the parameters of a general power of attorney.

  • The term "durable" comes from the fact that this authorization continues over the principal if they become incapacitated. Maine durable powers of attorney must contain certain language as contained under 18A M.R.S.A § 5-905.

Limited Power of Attorney

A limited power of attorney grants limited power to whatever the principal specifies.

  • In many cases, an agent will have the power to handle finances, or make medical decisions, but will not have the authority to do other things such as sell the personal property (depending on what the principal decides). Just like a general power of attorney, the authority terminates if the principal dies or becomes incapacitated. Additionally, if the purpose of this POA is fulfilled, the document terminates.

Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney grants power to the agent to make important healthcare decisions on the principal's behalf.

  • A medical power of attorney can be nondurable or durable. When it is nondurable, it loses its validity when the principal becomes incapacitated. When a medical power of attorney is durable, the agent's authority extends if the principal becomes incapacitated. However, it does not allow the agent to make end-of-life decisions. Instead, the principal needs to complete an advance healthcare directive while they are of sound mind so that they can record their wishes as they relate to end-of-life wishes. Legal Services for the Elderly provides a free PDF and other resources regarding advance health care directives.

Minor Child Power of Attorney

A minor child power of attorney allows a parent or guardian to grant decision-making rights over their child to a temporary guardian in the event that the parent or guardian may not be present during a medical emergency.

  • This form is generally used if the parent or guardian must leave the country for a period of time. It is also used if the child is temporarily living or traveling with another adult who is not their parent or guardian.

Real Estate Power of Attorney

A real estate power of attorney grants power to the agent to buy, sell, and manage real estate on the principal's behalf.

  • It has the flexibility to be either durable or non-durable. Because of its power and far-reaching consequences, the principal should seek legal advice before deciding to use this document.

Tax Power of Attorney

A tax power of attorney, officially known as ME-2848, allows the agent, generally, a qualified individual such as an accountant, to prepare and submit tax information and tax matters with the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Maine Revenue Services on behalf of the principal.

Vehicle Power of Attorney

A vehicle power of attorney allows the agent to buy, sell, and handle the necessary paperwork with the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles on the principal's behalf.

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