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How power of attorney differs from guardianship & conservatorship

There are several different titles that can make you a fiduciary, or someone who has decision-making power over a New York loved one, and they all indicate a legal or ethical relationship between you and the other person. Whether you need to pursue a power of attorney or a conservatorship or guardianship depends on your specific situation and the needs of your elder, so it is important to understand the key differences between them. Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., has considerable knowledge of fiduciary duties and how they differ from another, and he has helped numerous clients navigate the complexities related to them.

If you wish to make financial decisions on your loved one or elder’s behalf, Caring.com reports that you may be able to do with a power of attorney for financial matters, or through obtaining a conservatorship or guardianship. The primary difference between them is that the elder names the person they wish to give power of attorney, while a court must name a conservator or guardian.

Another key difference lies in the fact that a power of attorney handles matters that are financial in nature (keep in mind that this differs from a durable power of attorney for health care), while a conservator or guardian may have responsibilities that extend beyond that. For example, in addition to handling financial matters, a conservator or adult guardian may also make decisions regarding health care and related considerations.

Power of attorney also differs from a conservatorship or guardianship in that conservators or guardians may have more responsibilities as far as having to appear regularly in court. If you are a conservator or guardian, you can expect to have to show up in court at set times to detail how money is spent. The court also generally has power over you, meaning you may see your duties or responsibilities change outside of your control. When you have power of attorney, you generally do not have to appear regularly in court. More about estate planning and fiduciary duties is available on our web page.

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