How is conservatorship different from power of attorney?

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2021 | Estates

Recent news surrounding the conservatorship of Britney Spears has brought this particular legal function into the public eye. Essentially, the conservatorship is a form of gaining legal guardianship over an adult.

For many reasons, conservatorships can be fraught with disagreement and lawsuits, depending on the circumstances surrounding them. According to Smart Asset, conservatorships are similar to power of attorney, only that the individual in question may revoke power of attorney at any time.

What is a conservatorship?

The courts will grant a conservatorship to a third party if the person in question does not have the capacity to make sound decisions on his or her own behalf. Generally, conservatorships hinge on a judgment regarding somebody else’s mental abilities and capacity.

For instance, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementia may benefit from a conservator handling his or her affairs. Additionally, individuals incapacitated due to being in a coma or other medical condition may require conservatorship. Unsurprisingly, just like with the Britney Spears situation, it is not uncommon for conservatorships to end up in court either at the behest of the individual concerned or a third-party worried that the conservator is an exacting undue influence upon the individual.

What is power of attorney?

Power of attorney and conservatorship have many things in common. However, power of attorney tends to be less legally contentious because the individual can revoke power of attorney at any time. While power of attorney gives somebody else the right to make legally binding decisions on behalf of the individual, it is a voluntary relinquishing of power. Many individuals choose to craft a power of attorney that will go into effect if they are medically incapacitated: this helps avoid conservatorship.