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Durable Power of Attorney vs Conservator ship in California RE : Medical Decisions

Los Angeles, CA |

In California , what is the practical effect of granting someone durable power of attorney vs . placing oneself in a conversationalist of someone else ? I found a boilerplate California Durable Power of Attorney ( PA ) agreement that stated , " THIS DOCUMENT DOES NOT AUTHORIZE ANYONE TO MAKE MEDICAL AND OTHER HEALTH - CARE DECISIONS FOR YOU . " So it sounds as though the PA has mostly financial authority , but not much else . A PA cannot ( for example ) force you to see a doctor nor to submit to medical treatment treatment ? Whereas in a conservator ship , the conservator COULD compel the conservative to undergo treatment , eat a certain diet , etc . , in addition to the financial authority granted a PA . But then , if you become incapacitated , the PA then CAN make medical decisions on your behalf , right ?

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Attorney answers 2


I would not recommend using boilerplate documents from the Internet in place of sound legal counsel. It does sound like the document you found is a general durable attorney that is not applicable to medical care. You should also be aware that there are healthcare power of attorney documents that can be used if the circumstances warrant.

You should also be aware that the principal must be competent to execute any type of power of attorney. If he or she is not, convervatorship might be the only option. Note that one can be the conservator of the person, estate, or both. If a conservatorship is necessary, this should be discussed with your attorney.

If in the principal's circumstances a power of attorney would work, it might be less burdensome on all involved. However, sometimes, conservatorship is the best option.

I urge you to seek counsel based upon a full explanation of the needs of the principal from a CA attorney who is well-versed in this area. Mistakes caused by do it yourself legal work in this area can be painful and costly. Best of luck to you.

The foregoing is a general answer based upon limited information, should not be construed as legal advice advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is the opinion of the writer alone. The author is licensed in Indiana and Ohio attorney only.


You are mixing up terms and responsibilities. A properly drafted durable power of attorney can convey both financial and medical treatment authority. A Conservator normally has only financial powers. In the absence of a power of attorney, a guardian would need to be appointed to handle medical treatment decisions, make living arrangements for the ward, etc. A guardian generally has very limited financial authority, however, and none when there is a conservator in place.

One of the biggest benefits of POAs is that they eliminate the need for court action, altogether. They allow the principal to decide for him or herself who will take care of them; not a judge who knows nothing about the ward. They eliminate the costs and delays associated with probate as well as ongoing responsibilities to the court.

In my opinion, every adult person of sound mind should have a general durable power of attorney in place for both financial and medical matters. It is more important than a Will.

James Frederick

***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!

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