Maine Power of Attorney Laws

A durable POA allows someone to help you with your financial matters if you ever become incapacitated—here's how to make one in Maine.

By , Attorney · George Mason University Law School

If you want someone to be able to deposit your checks at your bank, file your taxes, or even sell or mortgage your home, you can create a handy document called a power of attorney (POA). A POA is a simple document that grants specific powers to someone you trust—called an "agent" or "attorney-in-fact"—to handle certain matters for you. The person who creates the POA is called the "principal."

What Types of Powers of Attorney Are Available in Maine?

You can make several different types of POAs in Maine. In particular, many estate plans include two POAs that are effective even if you become incapacitated:

  • a financial POA, which allows someone to handle your financial or business matters, and
  • a health care POA, which allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. (In Maine, this POA is combined with a living will, which lays out your wishes for medical treatment, and the combined document is called an "advance health care directive.")

In most estate plans, these POAs are what are known as "durable" POAs, which means that they retain their effectiveness even after you're incapacitated. It's a good idea for most people to create these two documents, as they help plan for the unexpected.

To learn about other types of POAs, including non-durable (limited) and springing POAs, see What Is a Power of Attorney? Below, learn how to create a durable financial POA that's valid in Maine.

What Are the Legal Requirements of a Financial POA in Maine?

For your POA to be valid in Maine, it must meet certain requirements.

Mental Capacity for Creating a POA

The person making a power of attorney must be of sound mind. The exact contours of this mental capacity requirement are open to interpretation by Maine courts. If you're helping someone make a POA and you're unsure whether they have the required mental capacity, consult an estate planning attorney.

Notarization Requirement

While Maine doesn't technically require you to get your POA notarized, notarization is very strongly recommended. Under Maine law, when you sign your POA in the presence of a notary public, your signature is presumed to be genuine—meaning your POA is more ironclad. In addition, many financial institutions will require a POA to be notarized (even if state law doesn't require it) before they accept it. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 18-C § 5-905 (2024).)

Mandatory Notices

Your POA must include specific language that's conveniently set out in Maine's POA statute. While the rest of your power of attorney need not follow an exact form, the document must include a notice to the principal (the person creating the POA) as well as a notice to the agent. The notice to the principal warns you that you're giving away broad powers. The notice to agents informs agents that they're assuming certain legal duties by agreeing to act as your agents. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 18-C § 5-905 (2024).)

Steps for Making a Financial Power of Attorney in Maine

1. Create the POA Using a Form, Software, or an Attorney

Some private companies offer forms or templates with blanks that you can fill out to create your POA. However, because these forms are often full of legalese, it's not always apparent how to fill them out. For a more user-friendly experience, you can try a software program like WillMaker, which guides you through a series of questions to arrive at a POA that meets your specific aims and is valid in your state. You can also hire a Maine lawyer to create a POA for you. Many lawyers will include durable POAs as part of a more comprehensive estate plan alongside a will or living trust.

Whatever method you choose, the process of making the POA will include either granting your agent comprehensive powers or selecting, from a list, the specific powers you want your agent to have. For example, you might choose to grant your agent the power to:

  • engage in real estate transactions
  • engage in banking and financial transactions
  • engage in retirement plan transactions
  • engage in stock, bond, and other securities transactions
  • operate a business or entity
  • receive government benefits
  • pursue tax matters, and
  • provide for personal and family maintenance.

In Maine, your power of attorney is automatically durable (meaning that it remains effective after your incapacitation) unless the document explicitly states otherwise. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 18-C § 5-904 (2024).)

2. Sign the POA in the Presence of a Notary Public

As mentioned above, in Maine, you should also have the POA notarized.

3. Store the Original POA in a Safe Place

Once you have completed the POA, store the original in a safe place that your loved ones can easily access, and let them know where to find it. (It won't do much good locked away in a safe that no one can get into.) If you become incapacitated, your agent might need the original POA to act on your behalf.

4. Give a Copy to Your Agent or Attorney-in-Fact

You should also give a copy of the power of attorney to your agent so that your agent is familiar with the contents of the document.

5. File a Copy With the Land Records Office

If you gave your agent the power to conduct real estate transactions, you should also file a copy of your POA in the land records office (in Maine, this office is called the register of deeds) in the county where you own real estate. This will allow the register of deeds to recognize your agent's authority if your agent ever needs to sell, mortgage, or transfer real estate for you.

6. Consider Giving a Copy to Financial Institutions

You can also give copies of your durable financial POA to banks or other institutions that your agent might need to deal with in the future. This step might eliminate some hassles for your agent if your agent ever needs to use the POA. Banks can sometimes be finicky about accepting POAs; see Can Banks Refuse a Power of Attorney? for more details.

Who Can Be Named an Agent or Attorney-in-Fact in Maine?

Legally speaking, you can name any competent adult to serve as your agent. But you'll want to take into account certain practical considerations, such as the person's trustworthiness and geographical location. For more on choosing agents, see What Is a Power of Attorney?

Maine allows you to appoint co-agents who are authorized to act at the same time, but it's usually advisable to stick to just one agent to minimize potential conflicts. However, naming a "successor" agent—an alternate who will become your agent if your first choice is unavailable for any reason—is always a good idea, as it creates a backup plan. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 18-C § 5-911 (2024).)

When Does My Durable Financial POA Take Effect?

Your POA is effective immediately unless it explicitly states that it takes effect at a future date. It's possible to create a condition that must be satisfied before the POA becomes effective—such as a doctor declaring that you're incapacitated—but there are many reasons why this type of "springing" power of attorney isn't usually advised. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 18-C § 5-909 (2024).)

When Does My Financial Power of Attorney End?

Any power of attorney automatically ends at the principal's death. Your durable POA also will end if:

  • You revoke it. As long as you're mentally competent, you can revoke your document at any time.
  • You become incapacitated, and your POA isn't durable. But remember that all POAs are considered durable unless the POA specifically states that it isn't.
  • No agent is available. To reduce the likelihood of this happening, you can name a successor (alternate) agent in your document.
  • There's a termination date. If the POA lists a termination date, it will end on that date.
  • The POA's purpose is accomplished. If your POA gives authority for a specific purpose—like selling one piece of real estate—it will end after the purpose (the sale of the real estate) is accomplished.
  • A court invalidates your document. It's rare, but a court might declare your document invalid if it concludes that you weren't mentally competent when you signed it, or that you were the victim of fraud or undue influence.

(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 18-C § 5-910 (2024).)

Additionally, in Maine, if your spouse is named as your agent in your POA, that designation automatically ends once either of you files for divorce—unless the POA states otherwise. To be clear, your ex-spouse's authority to act as your agent ends, but your POA is still intact. So if you named a successor agent, that person would become your agent. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 18-C § 5-910 (2024).)

For more on Maine planning issues, see our section on Maine Estate Planning.

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