TuckerAllen estate planning attorney Kevin Mason recently appeared on KSDK’s Show Me St. Louis to explain the difference between a conservatorship and a power of attorney.
May is considered National Elder Law month, and a common situation many families face is that they find themselves in need of a conservator or a power of attorney due to a loved one being deemed incompetent or incapacitated.
That’s where conservatorships and POAs come in.
“The difference between the two is pretty nominal,” Mr. Mason said. “They have the same effect and in practice they do the same things, but one is a legal document – that’s the power of attorney – and it’s a document that is set up prior to a person being deemed incompetent or incapacitated.”
A POA creates a relationship with the principal, or the person who is creating the document, and their agent, or the person they are naming to help with financial matters in the POA.
A conservatorship, on the other hand, requires an individual to go to court to be named the guardian in conservatorship for someone if they are deemed incompetent or incapacitated. This creates a relationship with the court and the guardian.
Mr. Mason also cautions that not all POAs are equal. There are plenty of free options online individuals can print, fill out, and get notarized, but they will not be nearly as detailed.
“If you came and met with an attorney and got a document created by them it’s going to be somewhere between 20 and 25 pages and it’s going to be broader and cover more scenarios,” he said.