Southwest Florida

Power of Attorney vs. Guardianship

Power of Attorney
In most cases, a valid and effective Durable Power of Attorney will avoid the need for guardianship.

Did you know that if you don’t have a valid and effective Durable Power of Attorney, and you became incapacitated (usually through a gradual decline of cognitive ability or sudden traumatic event), a judge could appoint a person you wouldn’t want or even an organization you’ve not heard of before to handle your financial and legal decisions and your property? And that relationship may continue for the rest of your life, all the while eating up your assets to pay ongoing fees to the guardian and the courts for taking care of you.

But there’s a simple way to avoid this nightmare scenario – sit down with an estate planning attorney and draw up a proper Durable Power of Attorney so you can appoint the people you’d trust to handle your financial and legal matters when you can’t.

So why doesn’t everyone do this? This article says it’s because:

  • People aren’t aware of the importance of the Durable Power of Attorney;
  • People can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money or don’t look for a lawyer who will prepare one for them;
  • People don’t have a trusted person in mind who is willing to take on the role as agent; and
  • People just don’t want to think about or discuss the possibility of future disability and don’t think it will happen to them.

Whatever the excuse, realistically, using a Durable Power of Attorney instead of the government-controlled guardianship process is one of the best ways to stay in control; to be proactive instead of reactive.

For some people, finding a family member or other trusted person to name as and agent is difficult, but there are professional individuals and organizations who will act as an agent if you can’t find anyone else.

And the best thing about a Durable Power of Attorney is that you can always change the document — without having to go to court.

Other articles you may find interesting:

Common Myths about Your Estate When You Die

Estate Planning: Writing Your Own Obituary

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