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The difference between guardianships and powers of attorney

When your parents age, you may begin to notice that they have a harder time managing specific affairs than they did earlier in life. If you have genuine concerns about a parent’s emotional, physical or financial well-being, you may need to take action.

Per AARP, you may decide to do so through either a power of attorney or guardianship, among other options. These two options have critically fundamental differences, and the more you understand about each, the more likely an informed decision can be made about what may work best for your mom or dad.

Powers of attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that enables someone to make certain decisions for another person. An individual must be of sound mind when signing a power of attorney, meaning they must understand that they are giving certain important rights to someone else. Different types of powers of attorney exist. You may need one to help manage your mother or father’s finances, for example, or you may need a separate power of attorney or similar document to make healthcare decisions.

Guardianships

If someone becomes incapacitated and did not create a power of attorney prior to the incapacitation, a g guardianship to make decisions on his or her behalf may need to be established. A guardianship involves an individual surrendering some or all of his or her rights, and the court must determine that your parent is no longer capable of managing his or her own affairs to approve a guardianship appointment.

When it comes time to assist your parents with important decisions, it is essential to talk to a qualified professional. A skilled attorney can guide you as you determine how to best assist your aging parents.

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