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Heritage Tree LogoThe Differences Between a Guardianship and a Power of Attorney

To learn about the differences between a guardianship and a power of attorney, continue reading and reach out to our skilled Butler County estate planning and probate attorneys today.

What is a guardianship?

In the event that an individual no longer has the mental capacity to make responsible decisions for themselves, guardianship can be awarded. Essentially, guardianship allows an individual to obtain the legal right to make decisions on behalf of their loved one. To persuade the court to name you as guardian, it is likely that you will have to present some medical or practical evidence that points to a significant decline in this person’s capacity to stay independent, thus demonstrating that they need a guardian. After a court awards guardianship, you will have the power to make legal, financial, and medical decisions in the life of this individual.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney allows an individual to appoint a trusted individual to make financial, medical, or other decisions in the event that they become incapacitated. There are a number of different kinds of this legal document that can be used in varying circumstances. They include:

  • Limited power of attorney: This kind of power of attorney appoints an agent for a distinct case, for instance, the principal being unavailable or unable to conduct certain business matters on their own. For example, if you are purchasing a house and will not be available to sign the necessary documents.
  • General power of attorney: A general power of attorney refers to when the principal provides an agent with the authorization to make specific financial transactions on their behalf if they ever become incapacitated or unable to make these financial decisions on their own. These decisions can include banking matters, certain investments, and more.
  • Springing power of attorney: A springing power of attorney will only take effect at a predetermined point in time. Once the triggering circumstance occurs, the agent can work on behalf of the principal.
  • Durable power of attorney: This power of attorney provides an agent the privilege to handle various financial affairs, such as signing checks and opening bank accounts on behalf of the principal. Once the principal becomes incapacitated, the durable power of attorney will be concluded.

You will want to understand that the largest difference between guardianship and a power of attorney is that you must be granted guardianship by a Pennsylvania court while an individual awards you as power of attorney in their estate plan. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm today.


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