Having someone who can make decisions and take action on behalf of another person can be incredibly useful in certain situations. This is where a power of attorney or a conservatorship comes into play. Both of these legal actions grant decision-making authority to another individual, but they have some distinct differences. In this article, we will explore the disparities between conservatorship and power of attorney, helping you understand when and how each one is used.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that designates the right to make decisions on behalf of another person. It is important to note that the individual still retains their ability to make decisions. The power of attorney can be narrow in scope, focusing on either financial or healthcare decisions. On the other hand, a general power of attorney grants a broader range of powers that are not restricted to specific areas. Additionally, a power of attorney can also be limited to a specific time frame or certain circumstances. For example, authority might only be granted if the individual is deemed incapacitated by a medical professional.
It is worth mentioning that a power of attorney can be executed without the need for a courtroom setting or a judge’s approval. This makes it a less costly option for allocating decision-making authority. However, for a power of attorney to be valid, the individual granting authority must have the capacity and intent to delegate power to another person. If the person lacks the capacity to do so, the document is considered invalid, and no power or authority can be transferred.
A conservatorship, on the other hand, is a legal proceeding where a judge removes certain rights from a “disabled” individual, known as the ward, and grants those rights to a conservator. The court determines the specific powers that may be given to the conservator, which can include control over the ward’s person, property, or both. While the ward’s opinion may be taken into account for certain decisions, the conservator makes the ultimate choices based on what is in the ward’s best interests.
Conservatorships are commonly employed when individuals are mentally, physically, or emotionally unable to care for themselves. This can include elderly individuals diagnosed with dementia or individuals struggling with substance abuse. Unlike a power of attorney, conservatorships do not have any time restrictions. Typically, they last from the time of appointment until the ward’s death or until the court determines that the individual is no longer “disabled” under the law. The ward’s capacity, or lack thereof, does not affect the appointment of a conservator. Due to the involvement of legal proceedings, conservatorships generally incur more costs and expenses compared to a power of attorney.
In summary, both conservatorships and powers of attorney serve the purpose of granting decision-making authority to another person. However, they differ significantly in their execution and scope. A power of attorney allows individuals to retain their decision-making abilities, while a conservatorship involves the transfer of rights from a disabled person to a conservator.
If you have any questions regarding the need for a power of attorney or a conservatorship in Tennessee, don’t hesitate to contact The Higgins Firm. Our team of experienced attorneys in Nashville can provide you with the necessary guidance and answer any inquiries you may have.