Many California residents will become incapacitated at some point in their lives. This might happen because of brain trauma suffered in a car accident or because of a neurodegenerative condition, such as dementia. Incapacitation can also occur because of mental illness or because a person has a severe substance abuse problem and is unable to function in a coherent or independent manner. In such cases, two legal options are often available to help: conservatorship and powers of attorney.
These options, when planned for, are available to help people manage their lives regarding finances or health care. A conservator is a person who has been granted authority to act on an individual’s behalf to make decisions, ensure that bills are being paid and oversee the management of his or her personal or professional dealings. A power of attorney designation grants someone a similar type of authority.
What is the difference between the two?
A power of attorney is often designated through the execution of an estate plan. You might appoint more than one person to act as your representative if you become incapacitated. For example, you might sign a power of attorney for one person to make all financial decisions for you and another so that someone oversees making medical decisions, such as those relevant to end-of-life care. The primary difference between powers of attorney and conservatorship is that a conservator is usually appointed by a court in cases where the person in need has not signed a power of attorney as part of the estate planning process.
Also, it sometimes happens that a person may be involuntarily placed under conservatorship. A petition can be filed to block a conservatorship, in which case there would be a hearing. Executing a power of attorney early in life can help avoid these types of situations. The Law Office of Raoul J. LeClerc provides guidance and support to anyone in California who may have questions or concerns regarding conservatorship or powers of attorney. You can schedule a meeting by using the contact form located on our website for your convenience.