The Difference Between Power of Attorney and Guardianship
Most healthy individuals move through life without too many major worries. Of course, there may be times when we wonder about job and financial security, there can be concerns about the health of loved ones and when there are children involved, we may fret about them making safe choices in life.
However, we don’t always think about serious life-threatening or incapacitating injuries or even death. Unfortunately, these are all a possibility (or, in the case of death, an eventuality) in life. Legally naming an agent under power of attorney and nominating a guardian can help you prepare for your family’s future – and give you peace of mind. It is quite possible that you may never need to have these documents implemented, but at least you will have taken the right steps to minimize the worries you may have in the future and this will give you peace of mind.
It is best to draft these two different documents while you are mentally and physically able to make decisions for yourself and your family. They can be stored away in a safe place and then can go into effect if you become incapacitated or pass away.
Colorado Power of Attorney and Colorado Guardianships
- Financial Power of Attorney refers to how your financial matters will be handled. If you are unable to pay your bills, you need to have someone in charge of handling all of these matters for you and your family. This person will have direct access to your money, so for obvious reasons, that person should be 100% trustworthy and honest – a person you feel will not squander your estate or be frivolous with your money.
- Guardianship has two meanings. One meaning is the person you nominate in writing to to care for your minor child or an adult child with special needs. Much thought should be put into choosing a family member or family friend that you trust 100% to provide a loving, stable home for your children. A guardian will make all decisions for the child including living arrangements, schooling, nutrition, healthcare, religion, social interactions, etc. Take into consideration where the person lives: will you feel comfortable uprooting your children to a different state, for example? The second is a person who a court appoints to make decisions surrounding your health and personal care in the event you are incapacitated and unable to do so. If you have named a capable agent under medical power of attorney prior to your incapacity, a court guardianship proceeding could potentially be avoided. The person you name as agent under medical power of attorney has priority for appointment as your guardian in the event a guardianship proceeding becomes necessary.
These are not simple roles or small tasks! It is highly recommended that before you complete these documents you speak with the people you would like to choose to make sure they are on board with the great responsibilities these roles have. Make sure they understand how agreeing to these positions may affect their lives. If there is any hesitation, you may want to search for another person for the job.
Likewise, the relationships between people change over time. This is completely natural. Once these documents are in place, schedule frequent reviews of your estate plans to make sure you are still comfortable with the people you have chosen – and that they are still living. You can change the appointees at any time and as many times as you wish.
The best scenario is that you will never need to call upon a guardian or agent under power of attorney to help with your life. But accidents, diseases and illnesses happen. There is no way to know for sure what the future holds. Being proactive and putting these documents in place will safeguard you and your family.
To start on the path of nominating a guardian or naming an agent under power of attorney in Colorado, contact the Denver estate planning attorneys at The Brown Law Firm, LLC. We can help you understand the legal duties of each role so you can choose the right people for these roles. To learn more, please contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online.