Power of Attorney vs Guardianship: What’s the Difference?

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If you have taken on the estate planning process, you may be considering your various options. For example, who should handle your finances in the event that you can no longer do so on your own? Do you want to create a power of attorney or a guardianship? And what is the difference? Read on to learn more about these different arrangements and the situations in which they may be necessary.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney gives an individual the legal right to handle specific aspects of another individual’s life under certain circumstances. These responsibilities are often given to a loved one. Typically people choose a spouse, child, parent, close relative, friend, business partner, etc. When appointed, this person can pay your bills, make bank deposits/withdrawals, obtain medical records, file tax returns, buy or sell property, hire caretakers, transfer assets to trusts, and more. This is important in the event that you are no longer able to make these decisions for yourself.

What is a Guardianship?

If a loved one becomes incapacitated and can no longer complete certain tasks for themselves, you may wish to step in as a guardian. In order to do so, you will have to petition for guardianship. During this process, the court evaluator will meet with the possible incapacitated individual, investigate and report whether or not a guardian should be appointed, and, if so, what powers the guardian should have. The Court will always hold a hearing. There are different types of guardianships that may be awarded, depending on the level of incapacitation:

  • Guardian of the person
  • Guardian of the property
  • Guardian of the person and property
  • Guardian ad litem

What is the Difference?

When it comes to powers of attorneys and guardianships, both involve an individual making important decisions on behalf of another individual. The main difference is that a power of attorney will likely be created during the estate planning process. Generally, a power of attorney is chosen by an individual in order to care for them in the event of incapacitation. A guardianship usually forms after incapacitation and must be petitioned for.

If you have any questions or concerns about creating a power of attorney or guardianship in New York, contact our firm today.

Contact our Firm

If you or a loved one needs assistance creating an estate plan and wish to speak with an experienced attorney, contact the Law Office of Andres D. Gil, PLLC today.

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