A conservatorship and a power of attorney are both legal tools that can be used to manage the affairs of someone unable to do so themselves. However, there are critical differences between them.
A conservatorship is a court-ordered role where a person or organization (the conservator) is appointed to manage the financial and/or personal affairs of someone unable to do so themselves due to physical or mental limitations. The conservator has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the person they care for (the conservatee). Conservatorships are typically used in cases where the individual is severely incapacitated and are often a last resort, as they can be costly, time-consuming, and restrictive.
Power of Attorney:
On the other hand, a power of attorney is a legal document in which one person (the principal) gives another person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the authority to act on their behalf. This could involve making financial decisions, managing property, or making healthcare decisions, depending on what is specified in the document. A power of attorney can take effect immediately or be “springing,” meaning it only takes effect once the principal becomes incapacitated. Notably, the principal voluntarily establishes a power of attorney, whereas a conservatorship is court-ordered.
In summary, while both a conservatorship and a power of attorney allow someone to manage someone else’s affairs, they differ in how they are established, the degree of control they provide, and the circumstances under which they are typically used. For more information, please get in touch with our office to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.