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Blog: College Town Lawyer

What’s the Difference Between a Conservatorship and a Power of Attorney?

It has become common practice to take steps to handle the affairs of our loved ones in the face of advanced age and declining health.

A power of attorney is a legal document that is signed by your loved one granting you the ability to sign documents and handle financial affairs on his or her behalf. With a properly filed power of attorney, you are given the power to act on your loved one’s behalf just as if he or she were doing so. 

Any documents you sign under the power of attorney have the same effect as if your loved one signed. Note that a separate medical power of attorney or healthcare directive is often required to act for purposes of hospitalization and end-of-life decisions. 

Powers of attorney can be drafted so as to come into effect immediately or can be drafted so as to only come into effect, or “spring,” when your loved one is incapacitated and unable to act on his or her own. 

It’s important to note that a power of attorney does not remove the ability of your loved one to act on his or her own, whether by writing checks or signing contracts or in any other way. 

Sometimes I consult with concerned family members who felt secure because they had a power of attorney over their loved one. These family members subsequently found out that the loved one was persuaded to purchase a house (when he already owned one) or to buy a car (when she did not have a driver’s license). 

Even worse, I’ve seen loved ones whose own family members took advantage of their condition to steal a future inheritance from their other siblings. Because of this limitation of powers of attorney, many clients whose loved ones have Alzheimer’s or dementia choose to take additional steps. 

A conservatorship is a court order that places a loved one under your care and control. One aspect of a conservatorship is similar to a power of attorney – you are able to act on behalf of your loved one. However, a conservatorship goes even further. It eliminates the ability of your loved one to act on their own. 

This restriction prevents your loved one from accidentally writing a check to a scammer or from signing a contract he or she doesn’t understand. Conservatorships also give you the power to make sure that your loved one is admitted to the proper facilities for treatment so they can receive the best possible care. 

Which should you choose? 

A power of attorney is nearly always significantly less expensive than a conservatorship. However, in some cases powers of attorney simply do not provide the protection your loved one needs. It is vital that you discuss your particular situation with a qualified family law attorney who can advise you on what’s best for your loved one.


Is It Possible to Lower My Child Support?

“How do I reduce my child support obligation?”

Child support obligations are usually initially determined in one of three ways: a divorce proceeding, an initial custody determination, or a DHS support action. While DHS may periodically review child support cases (usually to request an increase in child support), many cases are not reviewed, and may remain at a fixed level for many years.

A suit to change the amount of child support is called a modification action. There are a couple of ways a modification can be instituted.

First, DHS can institute a modification action based on a change in income. Generally, DHS will not conduct a review/modification for three years following either an initial determination of the support level or a change in the support level.

DHS modification actions generally only address the support amount, not issues of custody or visitation. Also, DHS modification actions are limited to cases where DHS actually handles the withholding of child support. In other words, it is limited to cases where child support has been initiated by DHS or when child support money passes through DHS, such as in the case where a wage withholding order has been entered. DHS does not modify amounts where the method of child support payment has been ordered paid directly from one parent to another.

Second, a child support obligor can hire a private attorney to institute a modification action. A private action for modification may address issues of child support, custody and visitation.

How does one know which of these methods to choose? Consultation with an attorney is key.

While a written request to DHS for a child support review has the benefit of being free, such a course can actually be harmful to an obligor’s future chances if the modification is unsuccessful. And, as mentioned earlier, DHS will not modify a child support obligation for which it does not process payments.

If you are contemplating a child support modification action, call or email attorney Jay Hurdle to set up your free consultation today.

NOTE: Nothing on this website is intended to create an attorney-client relationship and nothing posted constitutes legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship with Hurdle Law Firm PLLC nor its attorneys. No information communicated through this website will be protected by either the attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine. If you use this website to send a message, do not include any confidential, secret or otherwise sensitive information concerning any potential or actual legal matter in the message transmission. Such messages do not create an attorney-client relationship and confidential or secret information included in such emails are not privileged and can be subject to disclosure. An attorney-client relationship is only created after a conflict check and by a written representation agreement signed by you and an attorney of Hurdle Law Firm PLLC.


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