If you help care for an older relative, you might have to consider the day that you will need to make medical decisions or handle their finances on their behalf. For example, they might wind up being either physically or mentally incapacitated. There are two legal options to go about assuming this responsibility: power of attorney or guardianship. The guide below explains their differences. 

Power of Attorney (POA)

If your loved one is currently of sound mind or body, they can work with an attorney to name an agent to serve on their behalf under specific circumstances. For example, some individuals use this document to specify who they want to take care of their affairs if they plan to spend a long time overseas, such as in the case of military members. Others set their POA to go into effect if they develop Alzheimer's or another memory-altering condition. This legal document may give the decision-maker, also known as the principal, medical or financial control, or both. It can also be altered or revoked, depending on changes in circumstances. 



Should your loved one not have a POA in place and they become incapable of making sound decisions, you will need to go through the court to seek guardianship. This will give you many of the same legal rights as a parent has over a child to make medical or financial choices on their behalf. However, the court will review all significant decisions and has the power to place limitations on them, as well as revoke the guardianship. 

To receive approval, the individual needing assistance, known as the ward, must undergo an evaluation by a physician or psychiatrist to establish that they cannot make their own informed choices. The results are given to the judge, who then decides if the appointment is necessary. 


If you need assistance with guardianship or creating a power of attorney, reach out to Kleveland Law Offices in Lancaster County, NE. The local law firm has served the legal needs of Greater Lincoln for nearly 40 years. Find out how they can assist you online, or call (402) 477-7776 to schedule a consultation.