There are many decisions to make when planning your estate. One common question people have is about Conservatorships vs. Powers of Attorney, and which one is best for their particular situation. While estate planning attorneys can give their professional advice, it’s important to understand the difference between the two options before deciding.
A Conservatorship is a legal relationship that a judge puts in place when an individual is deemed mentally, physically, or emotionally unable to care for themselves. If you become incapacitated in an accident or fall seriously ill, and aren’t able to care for yourself and make important decisions about your own life, a judge will appoint a conservator who can make these decisions for you.
A Conservatorship isn’t something you can put in place ahead of time. In order to become the conservator of someone else, you must file a petition with the court and the court must decide that the individual in question is unable to care for themselves. The court also decides what types of decisions the conservator is allowed to make on the person’s behalf: medical, financial, and legal, to name a few. Conservatorships have no time limits and if the incapacitated person recovers, the court must decide that they are now able to care for themselves going forward.
Powers of Attorney
Power of Attorney is a legal document you put in place ahead of time as part of a comprehensive estate plan. In this document you nominate other people to make decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated, and these can include financial decisions, medical decisions, legal decisions, and more. You can choose which decisions your nominated individuals can make on your behalf, and you can enforce time limits and stipulate specific circumstances.
Unlike a Conservatorship, Powers of Attorney do not require going to court and getting a judge’s approval, rather they are created and verified as part of your estate planning process.
Estate planning for digital assets
One relatively new aspect of estate planning is digital assets. Things like email accounts, social media pages, blogs, websites, and media stored in the Cloud all qualify as digital assets, and you’ll need to decide who gets which assets after you pass away. Many of us now use Cloud services to store our family photos and videos instead of traditional photo albums and physical videos, so your family will want to be able to access these cherished memories.
If you have any questions about estate planning or would like to learn more, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted estate planning attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.