When a person becomes unable to make or communicate sound decisions, a legal procedure can grant another person, often a spouse or relative, the authority to execute all decisions on behalf of the subject. Laws and procedures vary by state and should be explored before a decision must be made.

Other legal options grant more limited, specific authority than guardianship. Power of attorney and durable power of attorney grant an individual the right to make specific legal, healthcare, and/or financial decisions on behalf of the subject.


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When serving as the guardian to another individual, try to make decisions as he or she would by taking into account his or her moral and religious beliefs.