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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

What's the difference between guardianship documents and power of attorney for a child?

Question: I have a young child, and know that I should make a will for him, but I'm overwhelmed by the terms. What is the difference between naming a guardian for a child in my will, and a "Power of Attorney"? Do I need both?

Answer: First of all, congratulations getting started on your will. So many parents never even get that far, and you're doing the right thing for your family by preparing.

There is a big difference between these two documents, and you absolutely need both--for both yourself and your child--if you want your estate plan to be complete.

Imagine that there were an emergency, an accident where both you and your child were injured and taken to the hospital. While you are alive but unable to make your own decisions (such as if you are unconscious), the power of attorney document is the one that works in this case.

There are two separate documents that can give someone power of attorney: one is a healthcare power of attorney that nominates the person you'd like to make your healthcare decisions. The other is for financial decisions. We know that there is not always one perfect person to do both of these jobs for you, so you might want to choose different people. We can help guide you through those choices.

You may also choose to nominate different people to act as power of attorney for yourself and for your child. So if your child needed a medical decision made quickly in the emergency, and you were unconscious, your child's healthcare power of attorney would make the decision in your place.

Now, let's talk about guardianship.

Many attorneys include a line about guardianship in your will. Your child is the most precious thing in the world to you, and we believe that one line isn't enough.

Our law firm has separate guardianship documents--one for temporary guardians, while you are alive but unreachable, and one for permanent guardians, which comes into effect after a death certificate is presented--and our questions and advice will help you choose the absolute best people to care for your child if you couldn't be there.

A good estate plan has already anticipated all these "what ifs" and created back-up plans.

I know you love your kids, so you can't be too careful when it comes to estate planning for them.

If this still feels overwhelming, don't let it keep you from making a plan. The first step in our process is to complete your estate planning workbook, which will guide you through each decision.

We're here to help. Contact Swan Law at 970-879-1572 or email today.

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