What is the difference between a guardianship and Power of Attorney?

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What is the difference between a guardianship and Power of Attorney?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? How long does each take to complete and what are the cost involved?

Asked on September 30, 2011 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A Power of Attorney is a written and notarized document giving an individual the legal power to act on behalf of another according to the terms of the document. There is no court involvement which is the primary difference between the Power of Attorney and the guardianship.  Guardianships are fiduciary relationships created by the court. The court authorizes an individual to act as guardian of another according to the terms of the court order. There is also something known as a conservator which is basically the same thing but the duties can be different.  Now which is best for you really depends. A power of attorney may grant the fiduciary broad powers over the person and his/her estate, or limited powers to act only in certain circumstances.  If the Power of Attorney grants only limited powers, a guardian or conservator may be necessary. There are also what people call "Medical" Power of Attorneys also known as Healthcare Proxys.  You would maybe need both types of POA's but not so if there is a guardianship.  Please speak with an attorney in your area here.  It is unclear if this is for you or for another.   The health of the person involved matters in execution. Good luck.


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