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Difference Between a Power of Attorney and Guardianship

 Posted on April 23, 2021 in Power of Attorney

IL estate lawyerEven though we often complain about it and dread the aesthetic and physical effects, aging is simply a part of life. Though we should not worry too much about our hair turning gray or falling out, it is not a bad idea to make arrangements that would help in the event you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. There are various options available to you to do this, but two of the most commonly used options are powers of attorney and guardianships. Both options are similar to one another, but they also have various differences. Understanding these differences is important in making the best decision for you and your family.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives another person the authority to make certain decisions in the event you are unable to do so yourself. The person appointed to make those decisions called the “agent,” must do so according to the terms of the document. When the document is created, the person must be able to legally give their consent to relinquish decision-making power if they become incapacitated.

POA’s are customizable documents in the sense that they allow the person for whom they are for to include or remove any powers they wish their agent to have. A POA can include provisions for both personal and financial decisions and can include terms on what the agent should and should not do.


Guardianship is actually considered to be one of the most restrictive forms of assistance available to adults who are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. When you appoint a guardian for someone, you are appointing that guardian to serve as the decision-maker for the person, who is referred to as the “ward.” Because of this, a person who is appointed a guardian must be considered disabled because of:

  • Mental deterioration
  • Physical incapacity
  • Mental illness
  • Developmental disability

There are different types of guardianships that exist to serve different situations. For example, sometimes a person is able to make some decisions for themselves, but not all decisions, in which case limited guardianship may be granted. In other cases, a person may be completely incapable of making any decisions for themselves and may need plenary guardianship, which would allow the guardian to make all decisions for the ward’s wellbeing.

Let Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers Help Your Family

At Stock, Carlson & Duff, LLC, finding the right solution for your family’s situation is extremely important to us. Our skilled Wheaton, IL estate planning attorneys will make sure you understand the difference between powers of attorney and guardianship so you can make an informed decision. Contact us today to get started discussing your case by calling our office at 630-665-2500 to schedule a consultation.




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