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The difference between guardian and power of attorney

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2023 | Estate Planning

It’s important to understand the difference between a guardian and someone with power of attorney. If you or someone you love in Oklahoma doesn’t have the capacity to take care of themself and needs someone else to make important decisions for them, it’s helpful to learn about these two roles.

What does a guardian do?

“Guardian” refers to someone who is made legally responsible for a child or adult who isn’t able to take care of themself. It’s a position that has to be either assigned by a judge or written into a will.

It’s common for a guardian to also handle the financial affairs of the individual, which is generally referred to as “a conservatorship” in law. In that case, the guardian is also the conservator.

What makes power of attorney different?

While power of attorney bears some similarities to guardianship, there are a few key distinctions. They are similar in that both give an agent the power to make a variety of decisions for the adult or child. This includes legal, medical and financial decisions.

The difference lies in how the positions are designated. The individual has the option to pick the person who they want to give power of attorney to. They can also specify the conditions under which they want this role to be given.

Establishing guardianships, on the other hand, has to be done through court appointments, so the person on the receiving end might not get to play any part in the decision process.

With a power of attorney, things tend to be more flexible. You also get to keep things more private, and you often have a greater amount of control. Guardians typically have more power, but their decisions are still subject to the approval of the court.