Who can execute a Power of Attorney for a child?
This information is for parents who need someone else to take responsibility for their children for a short period of time.
For example, you may be a parent who will be out of state or hospitalized. You can give another adult the authority to make decisions about your child during your absence. This simple legal process is called giving "power of attorney."
What legal responsibilities am I transferring?
By signing a "power of attorney," you are giving over the authority to make all decisions about your children, except these:
- You do not give away your right to decide if your child may be adopted.
- You do not give away the right to decide if your child may get married.
- You do not give away the right to decide if your child may sell or give away their property
- You do not give away the right to terminate parental rights.
Does this mean that my child can attend school in another school district where they will be living while the "power of attorney" is in effect?
Not necessarily. As a rule, state law requires children to attend the public school where their parent or legal guardian lives. Most schools in Maine no longer accept a "power of attorney" to prove that a child is a resident of a different school district.
At the same time, under a separate federal law, students who are "homeless" have the right to go to school wherever they are living. And there are other exceptions: sometimes a student is allowed to attend a public school away from where their parents live, even if they are not "homeless." Read more about a Homeless Students' Right to Attend School.
Learn about becoming the legal Guardian of a Minor.
If I sign a power of attorney, does that mean I've abandoned my kids?
No! Signing a power of attorney cannot be used to show you’ve abandoned, neglected, or abused your children, unless there is other supporting evidence. Also, signing a power of attorney does not mean your kids are in foster care.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that signing a power of attorney does not mean you have ended your parental responsibilities. After the power of attorney period ends, your children come back to you.
How do I put a "power of attorney" into effect?
Fill out a "power of attorney" form. Sign it in front of a notary public. Leave the signed form with the adult who will be caring for the child. Send copies of the form to the child's service providers, such as his doctor, school, and babysitter.
You can give the "power of attorney" for any period of time up to 12 months. If you want the "power of attorney" to last longer, you will need to fill out a new form in the same way at the end of the 12 months.
What if I change my mind?
If you want to cancel the "power of attorney" before the end of the 12 months, you can do that. Use a "Notice of Revocation of Power of Attorney" form. After completing the form, give it to the adult who was caring for your children. Give copies to everyone who relied on the "power of attorney" while it was in effect.
I am a child's court-appointed guardian. Can I give a power of attorney?
What if I am a reservist and must be gone for longer than 12 months?
In some situations, where you are called into active duty for more than 30 days(about four and a half weeks), your power of attorney can last beyond the 12-month time limit, until you are able to return home. Seek legal advice.
A note to professionals who help people complete a Power of Attorney for a Child in Maine
In 2016 the Maine legislature passed a law affecting professionals who help people complete forms to affect a Child Power of Attorney. If you work for a non-profit (501(c)(3)) organization – other than legal aid – these new rules apply to you.
You have the responsibility to do a background check on anyone who receives the power of attorney (the agent), and any adult members of their household. You must give a copy of the results to both the parents and the agent. Anyone who has ever been substantiated for child abuse, neglect, or exploitation, or who has committed certain crimes, cannot receive a power of attorney. Read the law here to learn more.
Updated September 2022
PTLA # 963