Conservatorship vs. Power of Attorney: Which is Right for You?

When it comes to the roles of conservatorship and power of attorney, many people confuse the two terms? When is it right to use one over the other? Which is the right choice for your family? Let’s take a look at this quick, compact guide to understanding conservatorship vs. power of attorney.


What is Power of Attorney?


Power of attorney is a legal document that allows the appointed party to make decisions on another’s behalf. It’s a voluntary and deliberate choice to name someone as your power of attorney. Power of attorney allows that person to make legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. The other person is also referred to in legal terms as “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.”


The person on behalf of which a power of attorney is acting is known as the “principal.” When the principal can no longer function or make decisions independently, a power of attorney has all the legal rights to step in on the principal’s behalf.


Scope of Power of Attorney


There is a specific scope in which a power of attorney can operate on your behalf, including medical and financial capacities. This depends on the laws of the state in which you reside and the terms of your legal power of attorney document. Giving someone a power of attorney does not require a judge’s approval and is executed outside the courtroom. Therefore, it is a more cost-effective method than assigning conservatorship.


Who Can be Given Power of Attorney?


For a power attorney to be valid, you’ll need a legal, valid document assigning power of attorney. The designated agent should also have the capacity and intent to act on your behalf.



What Is a Conservatorship?


Unlike power of attorney, a conservatorship is a legal proceeding that assigns certain rights of an incapacitated individual to a third party, known as the conservator. The assignment of conservatorship takes place in court by a judge. The rights and power that can be given to the conservator include property, medical, and financial rights. While the principal party does have some say in what happens, the conservator needs to oversee decisions. A conservator is required by law to make decisions that act in the best interest of the incapacitated party.


Who Can Be Assigned Conservatorship?


When an individual is physically, mentally, or emotionally ill and unable to care for themselves, conservator rights are given to an acting party. The most common use of convertoship is for elderly individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.


The legal document of conservatorship has no time limit. As long as it is legally valid, it remains in place until death or it is determined under the court that the disabled party no longer requires a convservatorship. Using a conservatorship is more costly than a power of attorney because it involves legal proceedings. The most significant difference between a power of attorney and conservatorship is that a conservatorship happens in a court setting and is subject to outside supervision by a judge.


Contact Derryberry & Associates to Discuss Your Options


If you want to determine whether a conservatorship or power of attorney is a better option for you, we’re here to help. Contact Derryberry & Associates today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Palmdale probate attorney.


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