If you have an elderly parent or loved one, then end-of-life care and decision-making authority may be something you are thinking about. After all, it is natural to be concerned with someone's well-being as he or she gets older and perhaps begins to show signs of mental and/or physical decline.
For instance, you should understand the differences between a guardian and power of attorney, as elderly Floridians often require someone in one of these roles at some point.
Both a guardian of the property and someone with a durable power of attorney will be in a position to make decisions about someone who is incapacitated and who is unable to manage their own finances. Both roles come with legal responsibilities and obligations that must be taken seriously as well as penalties for any violations of duties.
One of the primary differences between these roles is that a court appoints a guardian, whereas an individual would decide on whom to give power of attorney. Often, family members will petition the courts to name a guardian if a person becomes incapacitated and has not granted anyone durable power of attorney.
There are other differences between the two roles, including a difference in how and if they must report to the courts, as well as whether and when the roles can be terminated. The legal process and associated costs vary as well, since the courts typically are much more involved in appointing, supervising and reviewing guardianships.
Assessing your legal needs
Whether you are an elderly Floridian thinking about end-of-life care or an adult child concerned about the welfare of your parent, knowing about these decision-making roles and responsibilities can be crucial.
However, keep in mind that there is a lot of information about guardianships and durable powers of attorney that are not discussed here, as this is a complicated area of estate planning that varies from case-to-case. Because of this, it is a good idea to talk to an attorney about your specific concerns or questions regarding decision-making rights for incapacitated individuals.