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Guardianship vs. Power of Attorney

What would you do if a medical condition or accident left you incapacitated? If you were unable to handle your own affairs and take care of your children … would you have the proper documents in place to protect yourself, your estate and your children? Would your children have a safe place to go – a place you trust with all of your heart? Or would the courts have to appoint someone to decide where they would live?

If you are unsure how to respond to these questions, the answer is probably no.

There are a variety of legal ways you can plan for the unthinkable. Colorado nomination of a guardian in your will and a financial power of attorney are two vastly different documents that can be drafted while you are mentally and physically able to make decisions that could affect your future – and the future of your family.

  • Guardianship: This is a person you appoint to take care of your children (minors or a special need adult child) if you are unable to do so. This person would be responsible for making decisions in the child’s best interests surrounding living arrangements, schooling, nutrition, healthcare, religion, social interactions, etc. It is best to choose a person who shares your same values and a similar lifestyle to provide as much stability for the child as possible.
  • Agent under Financial Power of attorney: This is a person who will handle general financial and business matters surrounding your assets while you are living. In contrast to a guardianship, there does not have to be a personal relationship between this person and your child. Your agent under power of attorney will not make direct decisions on the welfare and daily rearing of your child but they will make decisions on the appropriateness of expenditures requested by your child’s guardian. It is best to choose a person you trust completely with your financial affairs – someone who you feel confident will not try to squander any of your estate for their own gain or be easily swayed by others.

The people you name for these roles are not set in stone. You have the right to change the names as often as you wish – especially if your relationship has changed with that person or you feel they are not suitable choices anymore. You do not have to give a reason why you have changed the appointees.

Hopefully you will never need to call upon a guardian or power of attorney to help with your life. But by planning ahead for unforeseen circumstances, you will have peace of mind knowing that you have done everything possible to protect yourself and your family.

To start on the path of appointing a guardian in your will or a financial 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.