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Differences between guardians of property and of person

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2022 | Guardianships & Capacity

Life is unpredictable, and there are times when people may no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. In Ontario when that happens, guardianships may come into play, and there are guardians for both property and person. It may be helpful to know what the differences between them are. Also, a power of attorney is not the same as a guardianship since an individual who is mentally sound appoints his or her own POA, while a guardian is appointed by the court or by the Office of Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT). 

Guardianship of a person

This guardian appointed by the court makes decisions regarding the personal care of an adult who is mentally incapable of doing so or who doesn’t have a POA for personal care. This guardian can make a number of decisions regarding: 

  • Hygiene 
  • Health care 
  • Nutrition 
  • Shelter 
  • Safety 
  • Clothing 

If a person can still make some decisions, a guardian can only make decisions the person can longer make on his or her own. A guardian should explain his or her role to the person for whom decisions are being made. Not everyone incapable of making decisions requires a guardian since the Health Care Consent Act in Ontario allows certain people like spouses, parents and relatives, to make those decisions on behalf of the mentally incapable person. 

Guardianship of property

This person makes decisions regarding the finances of a mentally incapable person. This type of guardian is appointed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice or the OPGT. He or she manages property and bank accounts of the incapable individual. He or she can: 

  • Pay bills 
  • Buy goods or services 
  • Open and close bank accounts 
  • Redirect income like pensions  
  • Apply for supplementary income or benefits to which the mentally incapable person is entitled. 

Guardianships can be confusing. The way to gain a thorough understanding of them is by talking to an Ontario lawyer who understands all the applicable laws. A lawyer may also be able to offer advice to those who have concerns about the well-being of an individual who may need either type of guardian.  


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