The Differences Between a Guardianship and a Power of Attorney

It is important to understand the differences between guardianship and a power of attorney. Continue reading to learn more and reach out to an experienced Montgomery County estate planning attorney today.

What is guardianship?

The use of a guardian allows you to care for a person in the event that they are incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for themselves on their own. It is important to recognize that guardianships can be created by different parties. In some cases, parents will designate a guardian to raise their minor child, in the event that something happens to prevent both parents from raising their child. Being selected as a guardian of a child will permit you to manage their finances and care for and raise the child as your own. In other circumstances, people can appoint themselves as the guardian of an older person that cannot care for themselves on their own. In the case that an elderly person has not appointed a trusted individual to manage their finances and other affairs during the time of incapacitation, the court can select a guardian for them.

What is a power of attorney?

With a power of attorney, an individual uses this legal document to designate another person to act on their behalf and make financial, medical, or other decisions if they become incapacitated. The different kinds of powers of attorney that can be selected include the following:

  • General power of attorney: This refers to when the principal gives an agent the right to make certain financial transactions on their behalf if they ever become incapacitated or unable to make these financial decisions on their own. These decisions can involve banking matters, certain investments, and more.
  • Limited power of attorney: This kind of power of attorney appoints an agent for a specific situation, such as the principal is unavailable or unable to perform certain business matters on their own. For instance, if you are buying a house and will not be available to sign the necessary documents.
  • Springing power of attorney: A springing power of attorney will only take effect at a predetermined point in time. After the triggering event occurs, the agent can act on behalf of the principal.
  • Durable power of attorney: This power of attorney provides an agent the right to handle several financial affairs, such as signing checks and opening bank accounts on behalf of the principal. Once the principal becomes incapacitated, the durable power of attorney will be terminated.

The most significant distinction between guardianship and a power of attorney is that you must be granted guardianship by a Maryland court and an individual awards you as power of attorney in their estate plan. Reach out to an experienced Montgomery County guardianship attorney today to discuss your options.

Contact our experienced Montgomery County, Maryland firm

The attorneys at JD Katz have years of experience compassionately guiding clients in Maryland through the estate planning and administration process. Our firm also has experience with matters of elder law, business law, tax law, and litigation. For a legal team that will put your needs first, contact JD Katz today.