There are two kinds of powers of attorney: financial power of attorney and medical power of attorney.

For example, when a trusted person is granted financial power of attorney, that person can make decisions related to the incapacitated person’s bank account, including payment of bills and overseeing matters of investment.

With medical power of attorney, a trusted person is allowed to make medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. The incapacitated person’s wishes can also be clarified so that there is no confusion or heartache regarding the medical decisions the person with power of attorney has to make.


With guardianship, the incapacitated or disabled person is known as a ward, and his or her decision-making rights are drastically reduced under guardianship. Generally speaking, the relationship between a guardian and a ward is similar to that of a parent and a child. The guardian can make important decisions on behalf of the ward, and the ward may be unable to contest these decisions.

A key difference between power of attorney and guardianship is that your loved one, given his or her capacity to do so, can terminate the power of attorney at any time. However, under guardianship, your loved one would be unable to void someone else’s guardian status. That power rests with the court.