Guardianship and Conservatorship
Our attorneys frequently represent clients in petitioning the court to appoint a guardian or conservator as well as informing clients on the responsibilities of these roles.
As defined by the Utah Code, a guardian is a person or institution appointed by a court to make decisions about the care of another, who is sometimes referred to as the “ward” or “respondent.” A conservator is a person or institution appointed by the court to manage the property and financial affairs of a ward or “protected person.” Sometimes the same person is appointed to both roles. If no conservator is appointed, the guardian has some of the responsibilities of a conservator.
To establish a guardianship or conservatorship, a petition is filed with the court and notice must be given to all interested persons, which would include a spouse and the children of the protected person.
In addition, an attorney must be appointed to represent the ward or the protected person during the proceeding to appoint a guardian or conservator.
A Guardianship is sought for a person who is impaired due to mental illness, mental deficiency, dementia, physical illness or disability, chronic drug use or chronic intoxication and lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions.
A Guardianship may be granted when the ward’s decision making process is so impaired the ward cannot attend to and provide basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care or personal safety.
For more information on dementia, please visit Elder Law Answers.
A conservator is a fiduciary for the ward’s estate, which includes real property and other assets. A conservator has the responsibility of using reasonable care, skill and caution to manage, protect and invest the estate of the protected person. Most commonly a fiduciary is a trustee, but can also be a business adviser, attorney, guardian, estate administrator, banker or stockbroker.
Before a conservator is appointed, the probate court must find the alleged protected person has assets or income that may be wasted or dissipated if a conservator is not appointed.