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What is the Difference Between a Power of Attorney and a Guardianship?

You may be required to make important decisions on behalf of a loved one at some point in your life. To learn more about your options for this process, and the difference between a power of attorney and a guardianship, read on and reach out to our Des Moines estate planning lawyer

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What is a guardianship?

When someone no longer has the mental capacity to make decisions on their own, guardianship is awarded. An individual may have the legal right to make these decisions on behalf of their loved one in this event. To convince the court to name you as guardian, you must present practical or medical evidence that portrays the significant decline in the individual’s ability to remain independent, providing that they need a guardian. If you have been awarded guardianship, you will gain the ability to make legal, medical, and financial decisions on behalf of this individual.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney allows an individual to designate another person to act on their behalf and make financial, medical, or other decisions in the event that they become incapacitated. The following are the different types of power of attorney:

  • General power of attorney: A general power of attorney allows the principal to give an agent the right to make certain financial transactions for them if they were to become incapacitated or unable to make these financial decisions on their own. Such decisions may include banking matters, certain investments, and more.
  • Limited power of attorney: Limited power of attorney designates an agent for a specific situation. For example, the principal may become unavailable or unable to conduct certain business matters on their own such as purchasing a house or not being able to sign the necessary documents.
  • Springing power of attorney: Springing power of attorney takes effect at a predetermined moment in time. The triggering event will allow the agent to act on behalf of the principal.
  • Durable power of attorney: Durable power of attorney gives an agent the right to handle various financial affairs. This may include signing checks and opening bank accounts on behalf of the principal. However, once the principal becomes incapacitated, the durable power of attorney will be terminated.

The primary difference between a guardianship and a power of attorney is that you must be awarded guardianship by a court while an individual can award you as power of attorney in their estate plan. If you have any further questions about these two legal documents, do not hesitate to contact our experienced firm.

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Herting Law, PLLC, is an Iowa-based law firm that has experience in all criminal matters, including OWIs, drug charges, gun crimes, theft, assault, and more. If you need an estate planning lawyer, our firm can guide you. Whatever the situation, Herting Law, PLLC has you covered.

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