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POA vs. Guardianship

By: Attorney Shira Truitt


When faced with a decision of how to help a loved one who needs more assistance with decision-making, Power of Attorney and Guardianship come to mind. Power of attorney and guardianship are both legal arrangements that allow one person to make decisions on behalf of another person. However, there are significant differences between the two, and it is important to understand these differences in order to determine the best course of action for an individual who is unable to manage their own affairs.

A power of attorney is a legal document in which an individual, known as the principal, grants authority to another person, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to make decisions on their behalf. The power of attorney can be limited in scope, covering specific decisions or tasks, or it can be broad, giving the agent the authority to make a wide range of decisions on behalf of the principal. To be effective, the principal must have the mental capacity to execute the necessary documents for a power of attorney. If the principal does not have the requisite capacity, then a guardianship may be your next best opportunity.

A guardianship, on the other hand, is a legal arrangement in which a court appoints a person, known as the guardian, to make decisions on behalf of another person, known as the ward. Guardianships are typically used for individuals who are unable to make informed decisions about their own care due to a physical or mental disability, or due to age. Guardians control nearly every aspect of the ward's life, including driving, voting, and daily decision-making.

One key difference between power of attorney and guardianship is that a power of attorney is created voluntarily by the principal, while a guardianship is imposed by the court. This means that a power of attorney can be terminated by the principal at any time, while a guardianship can only be terminated by the court. Because of this difference, a power of attorney has more flexibility while a guardianship has more stability.

Overall, power of attorney and guardianship are legal arrangements that allow one person to make decisions on behalf of another person. While significant differences exist between the two, one will be right for your loved one—and you.

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If you need legal advice or a lawyer in Illinois or Missouri, please contact The Truitt Law Firm, LLC for assistance. For more information on The Truitt Law Firm, LLC or to schedule an appointment, please go to www.thetruittlawfirm.com.




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