Understanding Powers of Attorney & Guardianships: Insight from a Pennsylvania Elder Lawyer
If you've ever questioned the difference between guardianships and powers of attorney for seniors, you're not alone. As a Pennsylvania elder lawyer, I often field questions about these two distinct yet related legal mechanisms. Here's an explanation to help you understand the nuances of each.
Guardianships typically come into play when an adult suffers from an issue leading to a mental disability, such as dementia. When a senior cannot make responsible decisions on their own, the courts may appoint an individual to assume this role. Often referred to as a "guardian" or a "conservator," this appointed person has the authority to make decisions on significant matters, including healthcare, finances, and legal proceedings.
However, these designations are not given lightly. The transition of one's independence to another person is profound. Therefore, as an elder lawyer, I often encourage families to explore other alternatives before resorting to guardianship.
The Power of Attorney Alternative
A power of attorney is one such alternative. Similar to a guardianship, a power of attorney appoints someone to make decisions on the senior's behalf. However, the key difference is that the senior has a greater say in the powers given and who will be making decisions should they become unable.
A power of attorney can be as expansive or as limited as the senior prefers. Notably, the individual chooses their power of attorney agent in advance, ensuring they can choose someone they trust with their best interests in mind. In contrast, a guardian is appointed by the courts, typically in an emergency situation.
Get Legal Assistance
It's critical for seniors to consult with an elder lawyer when setting up a power of attorney to ensure their preferences and needs are accurately reflected. If you or a loved one is considering establishing a power of attorney or need advice on guardianship matters, feel free to reach out. Our Pennsylvania elder law firm is here to guide you every step of the way, protecting your rights and ensuring your future is secure. Simply contact us by clicking the link below to schedule a consultation.