Marietta Elder Lawyer Weighs in on Guardianships vs. Powers of Attorney

Marietta Elder Lawyer Weighs in on Guardianships vs. Powers of Attorney

Marietta Elder Law Attorney Discusses Guardianships and Powers of Attorney

As an elder law attorney in Marietta, I find that certain questions are asked of me over and over again.  One area that sometimes requires explanation is the difference between guardianships and powers of attorney.

Guardianships for Elders

Guardianships come into play when an adult experiences some sort of issue that leads to a mental disability.  Elder lawyers see this type of situation in regards to the onset of dementia, for example, but there are other causes, such as a brain injury.  If the elder adult is unable to make responsible decisions for himself or herself, the courts can appoint someone to make them instead.  “Guardian” is a common term for this position, but it may also be referred to as a “conservator.”  The person for whom the decisions are now being made is often called the “ward.”

A guardian is typically authorized to make most of the important decisions for the ward regarding things like health care, finances, and legal proceedings.  There are times, however, when the guardian may need to obtain court approval before their decisions become final.  Additionally, it is possible for there to be a “conservator” in charge of finances and a “guardian” in charge of other types of decisions.

Guardianships are not something that are handed out lightly.  Having one’s independence handed over to another is profound, and therefore elder lawyers work with the family to exhaust other options first.

Powers of Attorney for Elders

A senior will often find that they have more freedom when they choose to give someone power of attorney.  The power of attorney is similar in that it gives another person the right to make decisions in case of incapacitation, but it is more restrictive.  For example, the elder lawyer may be directed to draft the power of attorney to only allow the “agent” to have control over certain types of decisions.  (Again, healthcare, finances, and legal are some of the more common areas covered.)

Powers of attorney can be limited, too.  For example, if a client is going to be out of town while a legal transaction is taking place, they might direct their elder lawyer to give a third party the power of attorney to represent them.  Or, they may only give the agent power of attorney for certain activities, such as signing checks to pay monthly bills.

Comparing the Two

One of the biggest differences between the two is that the agent with a power of attorney is chosen by the individual, whereas a guardian is appointed by the courts.  When a senior works with a Cobb County elder lawyer to draw up the power of attorney, they are able to choose someone they trust to have their best interests in mind.  On the other hand, when the courts choose a guardian, they will be using legal precedence rather than considering what the senior would prefer.

If you have other questions about estate planning, probate or elder law issues, please call us at 770-425-6060.

 

Your Marietta Elder Law Attorney’s Guide to Medicare Prescription Drug Information

Dec2010FWMnewsletter_blankFreeBy Steve Worrall, Marietta Elder Law Attorney

If you watch television at all, you can’t miss the increase in ads for Medicare prescription drug coverage. 

What you might not know is that the open enrollment period for this coverage expires December 31st

If you (or your parents) are eligible for Medicare, you need to take advantage of this coverage now or you’ll pay more for it later. 

Space does not allow us to break the whole plan down for you, but here’s some information to help you sort out your options. 

What Is The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan?

Medicare Part D allows people covered by Medicare to buy additional insurance coverage to help them pay for their prescription medications.  Medicare works with various insurance companies to provide this benefit and it’s available to everyone with Medicare regardless of income, your medical conditions or how much your prescriptions cost.

Where To Go For Additional Information

As with most government programs, the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan can be confusing.  The following resources are available to help you sort out the best plan for your needs:

www.medicare.gov – This is the official site for people covered by Medicare.

Medicare & You – This is a brochure containing information about various prescription drug plans, how to compare the plans and how to apply for extra assistance.

www.medicare.gov/MPDPF/Home.asp – This is an online tool that helps you compare various plans side by side to decide which plan will work best for you.

www.yourpharmacybenefit.org – This website was created to help people make the best use of their prescription benefits.

www.mymedicarematters.org – This provides basic information on Medicare and what it covers so you can decide what, if any, additional coverage you need.

www.benefitscheckup.org – This website is provided by the National Council on Aging and gives information on any changes to the eligibility requirements and what Medicare actually provides.  You may be eligible for benefits you aren’t even aware of. 

All of these resources are available, free of charge, on the internet.  If you have any additional questions, contact Medicare directly at 1-800-Medicare to speak with someone who can help you, one on one.