Jenna Haft, LSW
Social Services Director
Abbyshire Place Skilled Nursing & Rehab

The Difference between Power of Attorney and Guardianship

GuardianshipWhen a resident is admitted to our facility it important to know if said individual is their own responsible party or whether they have been deemed incapacitated. This is essential to admissions particularly to the Dementia Unit. If an individual is incapacitated this means that a doctor has declared that they are legally unable to make decisions for themselves. If the individual has been deemed incapacitated it is important to have a legally/declared responsible party whether it be a power of attorney or a Guardian. When families are first inquiring about admissions, many folks are not aware of the differences of the two different types of responsible parties.

Power of Attorney paperwork is notarized by a notary after witnessing both the individual and their responsible party to be sign the necessary documents. There are two specific types of Power of Attorney, health care and financial. These documents can only be notarized if the individual is of sound mind and has not been declared incapacitated.  The Power of Attorney is not activated until the person is no longer able to make their own decisions but it is a helpful tool to prepare for future circumstances.

Guardianship, however, is completed and declared by a judge after the fact. Being that once an individual is declared incompetent they can no longer have POA documents notarized; a potential responsible party must apply for Guardianship with in the court system. Being Guardian means that the responsible party is responsible for all aspects of the individual’s life like a parent would be to their child. There are also different time- period specifications for Guardianship as one may apply for Guardianship on an emergency basis and it may be granted that same day and only be for a matter of hours. A longer process is necessary for permanent guardianship that involves court hearings and a declaration of the individual in question of being incompetent.

The differences in these two titles are very important to understand when inquiring about admission to a skilled nursing facility. For individuals who do not have a responsible party prepared or put into place this may mean difficulty in finding placement.  At Abbyshire Place Skilled Nursing and Rehab we strive to help families understand these titles and gain the information needed to prepare for the future when their loves ones may not be able to answer for themselves.