Power of Attorney and Guardianship

Jun 27, 2016

Power of Attorney and Guardianship

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It is never too early to start planning for your future, especially when it comes to seniors. In the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself in the future, your plans will make sure everything goes according to your wishes. If you are unsure where to start, view our Guide to Estate Planning or our Guide to Legal Planning

Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is a written authorization to allow someone to represent you on his or her behalf. This allows them to make major financial, health, and estate decisions should you or your loved one become incapacitated.

Enduring Power of Attorney

In this case, if the subject becomes incapacitated by either mental health or physical health

In this case, if the subject becomes incapacitated by either mental health or physical health problems, the Power of Attorney is still able to make decisions on the subject’s behalf. Probably the most controversial form, this grants one person all decision-making power even after the subject’s death. 

Health Care Power of Attorney

This allows the subject to grant the power for all healthcare decisions, including terminating care and life supports. However, amendments can be made so that they can make all decisions except life support decisions. Oftentimes the health care Power of Attorney is often referred to as a “health care proxy.”

This allows the subject to grant the power for all healthcare decisions, including terminating care and life supports. However, amendments can be made so that they can make all decisions except life support decisions. Oftentimes the health care Power of Attorney is often referred to as a “health care proxy.”

Springing Power of Attorney

This only goes into effect if the subject becomes incapacitated. After this occurs, then the person granted will become Power of Attorney. Many couples choose this option so that if one of them becomes incapacitated, the other will assume the decision-making role. However, determining whether the principal is "disabled" enough to initiate this type of representation is a subjective and formal process. Springing powers of attorney are not automatic, and institutions may refuse to work with them.

Guardianship

Guardianship is when the court appoints someone to become a legal guardian for another person when they are unable to make their own decisions. This often occurs when someone becomes incapacitated. The guardian can then make all financial, health, and estate decisions for that person.

Why Is It Useful?

When you or your loved one gets older, there’s a good chance that your health can decline. Unfortunately, accidents and illness can occur and if you don’t have a living will or power of attorney, a guardian will be appointed. Hopefully, the court will choose a guardian that is honest and reliable, but there have been some cases where financial and medical problems have arisen. However, a reliable guardian can ease the burden of decision-making in your loved one’s latter years.

Downfalls

Like previously stated, there have been numerous cases of a court-appointed guardian swindling away money and/or property from their client. As much as we like to see the good in everyone, some people are looking for easy money. We see this in the cases of many celebrities whose death sparks an all out property and financial war among friends and family members.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between guardianship and Power of Attorney?

The difference between a guardianship and power of attorney is that for a guardianship the court appoints a guardian when someone is no longer capable of making his or her own decisions. However, a power of attorney is typically appointed by the person themselves. This difference is crucial because there have been many cases where a guardian has wrongly taken advantage of their subject.

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My grandfather has become incapacitated. As his power of attorney, can I sell his house to pay off medical bills?

Most likely yes. In most cases, the Power of Attorney is legally able to sell the property of the representative. This allows them to make major financial, health, and estate decisions should you or your loved one become incapacitated. A reliable guardian can ease the burden of decision-making in your loved one’s latter years.

 

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