Powers of Attorney, Guardianships, and Ensuring Control Over Affairs: Insights from the Elder Law Report

In the realm of estate planning and elder law, understanding the nuances between powers of attorney and guardianship can be crucial for individuals and their loved ones. In the newest episode of the Elder Law Report podcast, attorneys Brenton Begley and Samantha Gordon shed light on the importance of these legal instruments and the potential consequences of not having them in place.

Understanding Legal Processes

Powers of attorney (POA) and guardianships serve similar functions in that they both designate someone to act on behalf of another individual. The key difference between these processes is the level of control and involvement of the court system in an individual’s affairs.


Guardianship involves the court appointing a guardian to make decisions for an incapacitated individual. This process often requires extensive court oversight, potentially leading to the appointment if a third-party guardian if the court deems it necessary. There are two components of a guardianship, guardian of the person (health) and guardian of the estate (finances). This could be the same individual or entity, or the responsibilities could be split among parties. Notably, this relinquishes a significant amount of autonomy and control over one’s affairs to the court’s jurisdiction.

Guardianship proceedings can be cumbersome, expensive, and emotionally taxing for family members. Annual reporting requirements to the court add another layer of complexity, making it a less desirable route for managing an individual’s affairs.

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney offer a proactive solution to avoid the need for guardianship. By appointing trusted agents to manage financial and healthcare decisions, individuals can maintain greater control over their affairs even if they become incapacitated. It is vital that these documents are carefully drafted to ensure they grant comprehensive authority to designated agents.

Recent legislative changes, such as the least restrictive alternative standard, prioritize exploring alternatives like powers of attorney before resorting to guardianships. This shift underscores the importance of proactive estate planning to safeguard one’s autonomy and streamline decision-making processes during times of incapacity.

When selecting agents, it is important to select individuals who are capable and considering backup agents to prevent the need for guardianship. Additionally, it is important to understand the limitations of generic power of attorney forms, as they do not always grant powers necessary to completely avoid guardianship. Documents should address specific needs and scenarios, as well as be tailored to the individual.

Take Action Now!

Powers of attorney serve as foundational documents in estate planning, offering individuals greater control over their affairs and mitigating the need for guardianship. By consulting with experienced elder law attorneys and crafting comprehensive legal instruments, individuals can navigate the complexities of incapacity with confidence, ensuring their wishes are respected and their interests protected.

Free Consultation Offer

To schedule your free consultation, call 1-888-999-6600 or visit mcelderlaw.com to book an appointment online. Don’t leave your future to chance—take proactive steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Listen to the Elder Law Report episode below!

Happy Women’s History Month from McIntyre Elder Law!

Attorney Samantha Gordon has developed a digital women’s guide to estate planning. Download ‘Women & Wealth: Securing Your Legacy’ for FREE today!

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Greg McIntyre, JD, MBA

Meet Greg McIntyre

Greg McIntyre, founder of McIntyre Elder Law, is more than just an attorney. As a Navy Veteran, father to six kids, and a loving husband, he values family deeply. This drives his commitment to helping clients safeguard their futures and pass down legacies.

Greg has a passion to help people. Beyond just legal advice, he loves having conversations and strives to build a long-term relationship with every clients that comes through his door.

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