What are the pros and cons of being a POA vs. guardian?

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Great answers from everyone and I agree with all of them. If your parent is still competent then get a DPOA immediately, if they are not then you will have to go to court and it will require letters from doctors stating he/she is incompetent and I can tell you that no doctor wants to write them! You must have a trust and with banking there can be problems....Mom banked with Bank of America for over 50 years and for the last 8 years I had been on her accounts but they would NOT accept my Mom's trust and put me on as DPOA. It was all legal and done by an attorney and updated. Some banks like this one are stinkers and they seem to love to cause you misery and do things like this, so you move money to other banks or sue them. Smart thing is to have YOUR NAME on their accounts as a joint holder, however do not have a joint credit card or you will be held responsible for all outstanding bills.
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It can't be repeated enough. Have the conversation with elders about POA, wills, end of life decisions, funeral plans, medical directives, insurance, finances, and anything else that will help the caregivers when elders become unable to make decisions and care for themselves. Get it done now. My parents gave me a Very broad POA that covers finances, medical/nursing home decisions, DNR etc. it has been invaluable to me as dads dementia has worsened. Also get a note book and collect all info about finances, utility bills, credit cards, pensions and ther income, bank accounts and all medical contact info. I did this a couple years ago while the folks were still cooperative and as things declined it was much easier to get control of the banking, doc appointments and info, and to take over paying the bills.
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It's always possible the court will appoint a nonfamily guardian, such as an attorney, who will likely charge much more than a family guardian will.
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BTW, guardians are like parents to a child. They make all decisions about where someone is to live and what treatments they will have. They make the financial decisions. It is quite a responsibility. It is not something I would seek if there were any other options.
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POAs have to be assigned when the person is still competent. A POA acts as an agent to carry out the wishes of the person. The POA does not decide what the wishes are, unless the person is deemed incompetent.

Guardians are not generally assigned until a person has been deemed incompetent. At this point, they are no longer able to assign a POA. The process can be expensive and the guardian must be approved by the court.

There are no real pros or cons. It all depends on the situation. If a parent is combative and incompetent to make decisions, a guardianship is the way to go. If they just need help and are still competent, then a POA is the way to go.
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