In Utah, an adult may be appointed as the guardian and/or conservator of a minor child or incapacitated adult (the “ward”). A parent or current guardian may designate who should be appointed the guardian of the minor or incapacitated adult in a Will or other writing. If this has not happened, any interested adult may petition the court to be appointed.
In the petition, the applicant needs to explain the minor child’s situation (i.e. does not currently have a guardian or caretaker) or why the adult ward is incapacitated, whether there is a Will or other written designation of guardianship, and how the applicant is suited to care for the child or proposed ward.
Any other interested person needs to be served with the petition and have an opportunity to respond. If any of the people served oppose the guardianship he or she may file an objection and ultimately a hearing or trial will be needed for the court to determine who is best suited to be appointed or if a guardianship is not needed at all. If there is no opposition to the appointment, just a short hearing will be needed to address the appointment with the court to make it final.
A guardianship can be involuntary or consensual and temporary or permanent depending on the situation. Each has differing requirements and possibilities of being revisited at a later time.
A conservatorship is much the same as a guardianship except it only involves managing the finances of the minor or ward. Often this will be the same person as the guardian, but sometimes it is appropriate to have care of the ward and his or her money in the hands of different people. A conservator is required to make an annual accounting to the court of the ward’s income and/or assets.
The attorneys at Slemboski & Tobler would be happy to discuss your individual circumstance and answer any questions you may have about guardianships or conservatorships. Contact their office for a free consultation.