This page provides some standard legal forms to help you prepare for death, incapacity, or unavailability. These documents are complicated and can have serious consequences. Consider consulting with a lawyer before you sign any paperwork.
Power of attorney for business affairs
Use the Maryland Power of Attorney Form to give another person the authority to manage your property while you are still alive. In this form, you are the principal and the person you give authority to is called the agent. The agent can do anything with your property that is stated in the power of attorney. This may include withdrawing money from your bank account and selling your property. You can limit what the agent has the authority to do. If you wish to do so complete the Maryland Limited Power of Attorney Form. Read more about the laws on powers of attorney at the People’s Law Library.
Power of attorney will automatically end when you die. If you want to give someone the authority to manage your affairs after you die, you should make a will. There is no standard will form. Consider asking a lawyer to write your will. You can read more about wills and estate planning at the People’s Law Library.
Power of attorney for your health (Advance Directive)
You can give another person the authority to make decisions about your health care. This is called an “advance directive”, but it is also commonly called “power of attorney for health” or “medical power of attorney.” Unless otherwise stated in the advance directive, the directive goes into effect when you become too sick to make a decision about your care.
You can appoint someone to make medical decisions for you by completing the Maryland Advance Directive Form. Two witnesses must co-sign the form. The form does not need to be notarized. You or your agent are responsible for notifying your health care provider that you have an Advance Directive.
Read more information about Advance Directives at the Maryland Attorney General’s webpage.
If you do not have an advance directive, Maryland law defines who can make healthcare decisions for you when you no longer can. That person is a surrogate decision-maker. Learn more by watching the surrogate decision-making video or reading the People’s Law Library’s article on Making Healthcare Decisions.
Standby guardianship of children (delegation of parental authority)
You can designate an adult to be standby guardian of your minor child(ren) if you become mentally incapacitated, physically debilitated, or subject to an adverse immigration action. Complete the form Parental Designation and Consent to the Beginning of Standby Guardianship (CC-GN-041).The form requires the signatures of two witnesses. The form does not need to be notarized. Do not file this form with the court. You can read more about standby guardianship at the People’s Law Library. Brochures are also available in English and Spanish.
If an event occurs that causes you to be mentally incapacitated, physically debilitated, or subject to an adverse immigration action, the standby guardian will automatically become the guardian of the child(ren) for 180 days. During that time the standby guardian must petition the court to be appointed long term guardianship. The guardian can petition the court by completing and filing a Petition by Standby Guardian (Judicial Appointment) (CC-GN-042).
You can also ask the court to appoint the standby guardian before you become mentally incapacitated, physically debilitated, or subject to an adverse immigration action. The court will not appoint the standby guardian unless it finds that there is a significant risk that you will become mentally incapacitated or die within two years of filing the petition. To make this request, complete and file the Petition by Parent (Appointment Of Standby Guardian) (CC-GN-043).