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Conservators and guardians aren’t automatically appointed in Utah

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2019 | Estate Planning |

All Utah residents are considered to be adults when they turn 18. Once they reach this age, their parents or guardians are no longer accountable for their actions. They are responsible for their own. If you have someone that you care for that’s unable to take care of him- or herself, then you may want to explore guardianships and conservatorships some more.

The court system does not automatically step in and appoint someone to take care of a disabled individual’s personal needs and financial matters when they turn 18. It’s the responsibility of others to seek out court intervention instead. You can petition a judge to appoint a guardian or conservator to manage your loved one’s personal affairs if your loved one is unable to do so.

A primary difference between a conservatorship and guardianship is what appointees can manage on behalf of the ward.

Guardians are generally appointed to manage a person’s health-related, housing, safety and other personal needs. A conservator makes sure that their ward’s bills get paid and that all the debts that they’re owed are collected. The latter is also responsible for safeguarding their ward’s assets and preserving their value.

In Utah, it’s possible for a parent or any other interested individual to petition a judge to become a St. George adult’s conservator or guardian. They should be able to prove their prospective ward is too incapacitated or incompetent to do so on their own.

The court is required by Utah law to appoint an attorney to represent a disabled individual to ensure that their rights are protected. If a judge ultimately determines that they’re unable to make responsible decisions, then a guardian or conservator may be appointed by a court order.

A guardianship and a conservatorship are not permanent. Either can be ended if adequate evidence is presented that the ward is no longer incompetent or incapacitated.

Parents and other interested individuals may be able to protect disabled individuals’ assets and eligibility for government benefits by setting up representative payee designations and special needs trusts.

There’s no single approach to handling estate planning. The creation and implementation of an estate plan requires individuals to engage in the organizing, strategizing and execution. You should have an estate planning attorney who pays careful attention to you and your unique needs advise you. They can let you know whether it’s appropriate to set up a guardianship or conservatorship.