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Principled Advocacy For Families And Individuals With Disabilities And The Professionals Who Serve Them

Power of attorney versus a guardianship: What you need to know

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2021 | Estate Planning

As you age, there may come a time where you cannot take care of yourself. Whether from mental or physical limitations, it can become difficult to manage financial accounts while also trying to keep on top of your physical health. In these circumstances, the elderly have the option of appointing a steward to help them make decisions.

There may be those who, through unforeseen circumstances, find themselves incapable of making decisions for themselves and have not authorized anyone to assist them. What options do family members have in this case?

Guardianship versus power of attorney

There is a difference between guardianships and power of attorney. The difference boils down to how the legal relationship is established. Put simply, power of attorney is made with the consent of the ward, the person being cared for, while a guardian is appointed by a judge after a hearing.

For example, those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease may not think they need help managing their financial accounts or health care. In spite of urging from concerned family members about degenerating health, the person may consider themselves fully capable of managing their own affairs and refuse assistance.

Family members concerned about an aging relative may appeal to the courts to establish the legal relationship which will help the elderly manage their affairs. After filling out the proper paperwork and appearing before an Illinois judge, family members desiring guardianship status may make their case as to why this legal appointment is needed.

The person in question may contest claims made against their health when before the judge. After both parties have made their case, the judge will determine whether the aging relative needs a guardian appointed.

Why the difference matters

When it comes to caring for an aging loved one, it can be important to plan for the future. Establishing power of attorney before a family member becomes incapable of making decisions for themselves may save loved ones lots of time, paperwork and legal proceedings.