What Is the Difference Between a Guardianship and a Power of Attorney?

To learn more about the difference between guardianship and a power of attorney, continue reading and reach out to a dedicated Montgomery County, PA POA attorney.

What is guardianship?

In the event that an individual no longer has the mental capacity to make rational decisions for themselves, guardianship may be awarded. If this occurs, an individual may be authorized to be able to make decisions on behalf of their loved one. To persuade the court to name you as guardian, you will generally have to offer some medical or practical proof that demonstrates a substantial decline in this individual’s ability to stay disconnected, therefore confirming that they need a guardian. Once the court awards guardianship, you will be permitted to make legal, financial, and medical decisions in the lives of this person.

What is a power of attorney?

On the other hand, a power of attorney is a legal document that is used by an individual to appoint another person to perform on their behalf and make financial, medical, or other decisions in the event that they become unable to do so. There are several different kinds of powers of attorney that can be chosen to reflect certain situations. They include the following:

  • General power of attorney: A general power of attorney refers to when the principal gives an agent the freedom to make specific financial transactions on their behalf if they become incapacitated or unable to make these financial decisions on their own. These conclusions can include banking matters, certain investments, and more.
  • Limited power of attorney: This kind of power of attorney designates an agent for a specific situation, such as the principal being unavailable or unable to conduct certain business matters on their own. For instance, if you are buying a house and will not be available to sign the required documents.
  • Springing power of attorney: A springing power of attorney only comes into play at a predetermined moment in time. Once the triggering event occurs, the agent can act on behalf of the principal.
  • A durable power of attorney: This power of attorney provides an agent with the right to handle various financial affairs, including signing checks and opening bank accounts on behalf of the principal. With that being said, once the principal becomes incapacitated, the durable power of attorney will be dismissed.

The most significant distinction between guardianship and power of attorney is that you must be awarded guardianship by a Pennsylvania court and an individual awards you as power of attorney in their estate plan. Contact our firm to learn more.


Friedman Schuman is an experienced and dedicated legal resource for clients throughout Pennsylvania. We proudly serve clients facing a wide range of legal matters. If you require the services of an effective attorney, please contact Friedman Schuman today to schedule a consultation.

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