Power of Attorney vs. Conservatorship—What’s the Difference?

Create a Power of Attorney Power of Attorney vs. Conservatorship—What’s the Difference?

Power of Attorney vs. Conservatorship—Key Differences and Characteristics

Are you looking to get a conservatorship or a power of attorney (POA) for yourself or a loved one who can’t handle their finances anymore? If you can’t decide which document would best suit your needs, fret not because DoNotPay is here to help!

We’ll explain the power of attorney vs. conservatorship dilemma and help you choose a document that you will benefit from the most.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows a trustworthy person (called the agent) to make decisions for another person (called the principal) who is unable to do so.


There are different types of POAs, such as:

POA Type Specification
General POA Allows the agent to manage the principal’s affairs while they’re still healthy. It is terminated once the principal becomes physically or mentally incapacitated
Durable POA Lets the agent make decisions in the principal’s stead before and after incapacity. It can only be terminated if the:

  • Principal dies
  • Agent is unwilling or unable to continue
  • Principal revokes the POA
Limited POA Grants the agent clearly defined and limited powers over the specified aspects of the principal’s affairs for a limited time
Financial POA Gives the agent powers to act on the principal’s behalf when dealing with bills or any financial matters. It can be:

  • Immediate—Agent can handle the principal’s financial affairs whether they’re incapable of doing so themselves or not
  • Springing—Takes effect when the principal becomes incapacitated

What Is a Conservatorship?

A conservatorship is the appointment of a person (conservator) to manage and take care of an incapacitated person’s (conservatee) financial and personal affairs. Unlike in a POA, the incapacitated individual cannot choose the conservator. The whole arrangement is court-ordered, and the conservatee can’t revoke it. There are two types of conservatorships:

  • Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) conservatorship—This type of conservatorship lasts for 30 days. In case the conservatee remains incapacitated, the appointment is prolonged to a year. An LPS conservatorship can be renewed annually or ended if there’s no more need for it
  • Probate conservatorship—Also called ‘general conservatorship’ as it doesn’t have a termination date unless there’s an immediate risk to the conservatee

Differences Between Power of Attorney and Conservatorship

The main difference between the power of attorney and conservatorship is that the former is set up before a principal’s incapacitation, while the latter is formed after the conservatee’s incapacitation.

Another distinction is that:

  • You need a public proceeding to create a conservatorship, while the POA doesn’t require it
  • A power of attorney document is less expensive than a conservatorship

Should You Get a Power of Attorney or Conservatorship?

If you can’t choose between a POA and conservatorship, you need to know what an agent and conservator can do. Check out the table below for more details:

Agent’s Duties and Powers Conservator’s Duties
  1. Follows the instructions of the principal
  2. Acts in the principal’s best interest
  3. Keeps a record of receipts, payments, and transactions conducted for the principal
  4. Introduces themselves as an agent whenever acting in the principal’s stead
  5. Acts on the principal’s behalf if they become mentally impaired
  6. Signs checks for the principal
  7. Files taxes for the principal
  8. Manages the principal’s bank accounts
  1. Arranges the conservatee’s care and protection
  2. Decides on the whereabouts of the conservatee
  3. Takes care of the conservatee’s:
    1. Meals
    2. Health care
    3. Clothing
    4. Personal care
    5. Housekeeping
    6. Transportation
    7. Shelter
    8. Recreation
    9. Well-being
  4. Reports to the court on the conservatee’s current status

Does Conservatorship Override Power of Attorney?

A conservatorship overrides a power of attorney, whereas a POA eliminates the need for a conservatorship. The court will review the POA before appointing a conservator, so the two arrangements can coexist.

DoNotPay Creates a Power of Attorney in Your Stead Fast and Easy

In case you decided that a power of attorney document is the right choice for you, DoNotPay can create one in minutes! You won’t need to draft the document yourself or hire a lawyer to do it for you.

With our Create a Power of Attorney product, you’ll be able to generate a professional POA document suited for your needs without breaking the bank! Here’s how it works:

  1. Access DoNotPay from your preferred browser
  2. Select our Create a Power of Attorney product
  3. Provide the info you want to include in the POA

We’ll automatically generate the document for you. Even if your local laws don’t mandate notarization, it’s desirable to have your power of attorney notarized, adding legal weight to it.

In case you need an easy solution for that, DoNotPay has got your back! Use our Notarize Any Document tool, and we’ll set up an appointment with an online notary in no time.

If you have any questions regarding the power of attorney documents, we can provide answers.

Check out some of our articles below:

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