Power of Attorney vs. Guardianship—Key Differences

Create a Power of Attorney Power of Attorney vs. Guardianship—Key Differences

Power of Attorney vs. Guardianship—What Is the Difference?

Legal documents and terms are difficult to understand for most people since they’re not used to dealing with them on a daily basis. That’s why we step in with simplified guides to understanding and drafting a variety of agreements! We’ll break down the key power of attorney vs. guardianship differences and show you how to draw a POA up effortlessly!

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Power of Attorney and Guardianship—Explained

To better understand the differences between a power of attorney and guardianship, you should know what these documents are and what they do. See more details in the table below:

Power of attorneyA power of attorney is a legal document that you can use to transfer certain powers and appoint a trusted individual to make financial, health, and other decisions in your stead. Depending on the powers you want to transfer, you can choose from the following POA types:

GuardianshipA guardianship is used to legally appoint one person (a guardian) to take care of an incapacitated individual (a protected person). The guardian gets appointed by the court and is granted authority to make decisions on behalf of the protected person. The common guardianship types are:

  • Temporary guardianship
  • Emergency guardianship
  • Adult guardianship

What Is the Difference Between a Guardianship and a Power of Attorney?

Although both the power of attorney and guardianship are used to appoint an individual to make decisions for someone else, they are still different. The two key differences are:

  1. The cost
  2. Flexibility

The Cost

The biggest difference between a POA document and guardianship is the amount of money you’ll need to set aside for obtaining one. Since the process doesn’t require two doctors and two lawyers, getting a power of attorney is considerably less costly.


With a power of attorney, you can choose who you want your agent to be and shape the document to your liking. As for the guardianship, that decision isn’t yours to make—it remains with the court.

Guardianship vs. Power of Attorney—Do I Need Both?

Guardianship should be considered only if POA doesn’t fit your needs and can’t be used instead. Having a power of attorney instead of guardianship is preferable because the principal gets to choose exactly which powers he or she wants to transfer and can give the agent specific instructions to follow if he or she is incapacitated.

Whether you will have a POA document or guardianship doesn’t only depend on your wishes. Both the principal and the agent must be of sound mind during the signing of the POA, or the document won’t be valid. In such scenarios, the court will have to appoint a guardian as a last resort.

Does the Guardianship Supersede the Power of Attorney?

Guardianships can supersede powers of attorney in certain situations. This can happen if:

  1. The POA document wasn’t created prior to the principal becoming incapacitated
  2. The POA type isn’t durable—the agent’s powers will get terminated once the principal becomes incapacitated

Although you can write a POA on your own, you would have to pay a lawyer to help you with it or review your document afterward. Since lawyers can be quite expensive, DoNotPay developed a feature that drafts a POA document at a considerably more affordable price! Save your money and energy by letting our app do the job in your stead.

Draft Your Power of Attorney Document With DoNotPay in Minutes!

DoNotPay steps in to help you draw up your POA document instantly! All you have to do is complete a simple three-step guide, and you’re golden! You should:

  1. Subscribe to DoNotPay
  2. Say what powers you want to transfer
  3. Answer a few questions

Our app will generate your POA document right away, and you can choose to get it notarized at this step as well. Why waste time visiting a notary public in person when you can get your POA document notarized online with ease?

DoNotPay Answers Your POA-Related Questions!

If you have any additional questions regarding the POA documents, DoNotPay will provide you with all the answers! Check out the list below for the answers to the commonly asked POA questions:

  1. Can you have more than one power of attorney?
  2. How can I write a power of attorney letter?
  3. What determines the power of attorney over a parent?
  4. What is a power of attorney for mental illness?
  5. How can I take power of attorney away from someone?
  6. What is a joint power of attorney?
  7. Does a power of attorney expire?
  8. How can I obtain a power of attorney?
  9. What is a springing power of attorney?
  10. Do you need a lawyer to get a power of attorney?
  11. What is the difference between a power of attorney and a will?

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