Estate Planning Attorney Andrew Hook Clarifies Power of Attorney and Guardianship
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) December 15, 2014 – When a person becomes incapacitated and is no longer able to make medical, financial or legal decisions, it becomes necessary for another person to step in and make decisions on his or her behalf. Power of attorney and guardianship are two vehicles by which this may occur.
A power of attorney is a legal document which a person uses to designate someone to act on his or her behalf if he or she is incapacitated. A power of attorney can be general, granting the agent power over all of the individual’s affairs; it can also be more specific, and apply only to certain accounts or transactions. A health care power of attorney can also be established and appoints an agent to make health care decisions.
“Power of attorney gives individuals the assurance that someone with their best interests in mind will be making decisions for them if they are too sick to do so,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia estate planning attorney with Hook Law Center, with offices in Virginia Beach and northern Suffolk.
Hook recommends that people discuss their wishes with their agent early on, and that the agent know where to find copies of relevant legal documents.
In contrast, guardianship is used in cases where a person is incapable of making decisions due to mental disability, such as dementia or severe mental illness. In such cases, a court can appoint a guardian to make decisions on behalf of the disabled individual. The guardian can then make financial, legal, and health care decisions on behalf of the individual.
Guardianship is broader than power of attorney, and there is more court oversight in the process. The court will only appoint a guardian when a power of attorney is not a feasible option.