If you are getting older, something you’ll want to include in your estate plan is your choice of a guardian or conservator in the case that you are unable to care for yourself or take care of your financial needs. Usually, you do this by setting up your power of attorney documents.
If you do not set up these documents, then your loved one may petition to become your guardian or conservator later in life. Do you know the difference? Here’s what they will be able to do if they obtain this role with or without your permission.
What’s a guardianship’s purpose?
A guardianship is a process in which a guardian is established to care for another person. The guardian will provide for and care for an individual who can no longer take care of themselves and who is mentally incapacitated.
A guardianship isn’t voluntary, which is why it’s important for you to select who you want to have in that kind of role using powers of attorney. By setting up a health care power of attorney and your durable power of attorney, you will establish who you want in charge of medical and health care decisions on your behalf.
What’s the point of a conservatorship?
A conservatorship is established when you can no longer take care of your own financial business, such as paying bills or managing your assets. You do not need to be mentally incapacitated for someone to become your conservator.
You can avoid a conservatorship by establishing a financial power of attorney and appointing someone of your own choice to take over your finances if you become incapacitated. You may also be able to voluntarily enter into a conservatorship if you don’t have someone established in the role when you need additional help.
Both of these roles are different, so it’s important to go over them with the people who may want to help you in the future. Learn more about the legal implications of each role before determining whom you’d like to take over so that you can protect yourself and your estate.