Oftentimes, individuals confuse Guardianships with Powers of Attorney. Hopefully, we can help provide some clarification in the next few paragraphs. If you have further questions, after reading this brief post about Guardianships and Powers of Attorney, feel free to contact us.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document prepared at the request of an individual, and names a trusted person as their personal representative and gives the authority to this person to represent them to make financial, personal and business decisions on their behalf. The key differentiator in a Power of Attorney is the choice is made by the person granting the authority. The Grantor may also limit the authority they are granting. A Power of Attorney is not in effect unless it has been recorded with the court system.

With a Guardianship, the court decides who is granted authority to represent the individual (Ward) and the process begins by a petition being filed with the courts to hold a hearing to determine if a Guardianship is necessary, parameters of the Guardianship and naming of the Guardian.  A family-member, friend or agency can file a petition to request or seek a Guardianship. Just as a Power of Attorney can be limited, so can a Guardianship. In fact, the state of North Carolina prefers a limited Guardianship and when possible wants the Ward to be involved in decisions related to their welfare.

There are different types of Guardianships, with some of the most common being:

  • Temporary Guardianship, used for a specific purpose and to minimize disruption of lives
  • Emergency Guardianship, as named used in an emergency situation and for a limited period of time
  • Adult Guardianship, depending on the state you reside may also be known as a conservatorship, used when an adult cannot make decisions on their own or in their best interest. One of the most publicized in recent history is that of Brittany Spears and her father.
  • Guardianship of a Person, used to name a guardian to care for the physical and personal needs.
  • Guardianship of the Estate, not be confused with an executor or executrix. They are appointed solely for the purpose of managing the property, estate and business affairs of an individual. An executor or executrix’s role ends once the estate is settled.
  • Guardian Ad Litem, is a trained community volunteer who, works alongside a Guardian ad Litem attorney and the court system to determine the best needs of abused and neglected children.

Guardianships can be difficult and very rewarding at the same time. If you find yourself petitioned to be a guardian or in need of a guardian, we are here to answer your questions. Give us a call at 336-725-8366 to schedule a time to discuss your unique circumstances.