Guardianship's are typically set up when an adult is considered “incapacitated” in some manner. Persons are deemed incapacitated when they have trouble making decisions related to their everyday well-being. Under Utah Code Section 75-1-201 this means that the adult cannot process information correctly, cannot communicate his or her needs and is unable to fulfill basic necessities. If the inability to act significantly affects a person’s safety or health, the court may decide to appoint a guardian.
Who Can be an Appointed Guardian?
In Utah, any adult who is deemed competent can be appointed as a guardian. It is also possible to have an organization appointed as guardian, for example, a foster home. A guardian’s competency is determined by several factors. Generally, the court will look at whether the potential guardian has a criminal record, whether he or she is financially responsible and whether the person has good standing in the community.
The incapacitated person ‘s (or ward’s) familiarity with the potential guardian is also a factor. The court prefers to allow the ward to choose a guardian if he or she is capable of doing so. Otherwise, the court prefers family members or people who have an existing relationship with the ward.
Responsibilities of Guardians
The guardian will make all or some of the decisions affecting the welfare of the ward. There is no specific law dictating what a guardian must do. Instead, the letters of guardianship define the duties of the guardian.
However, there are some responsibilities that are common in almost all guardianships. These include handling decisions regarding the ward’s residence, education and medical care. Guardians also must provide the ward with a place to live and furnish daily necessities such as food and medication. Many guardians are also responsible for managing the finances of a ward.
Types of Guardianships in Utah
There are basically two types of guardianships that can be granted. The first is the standard guardianship which gives the guardian a wide range of responsibilities and powers. The second type is a limited guardianship which allots some responsibilities to the guardian and reserves some for the ward. In some cases, the court may decide to create a conservatorship as well. In the end, the court will decide which type of guardianship is appropriate under the circumstances.
The Guardianship Process
Anyone can file a petition to appoint a guardian if they feel the need exists. Petitions must be filed in the state district court that has jurisdiction over the ward. Most petitioners use the help of a custody lawyer to ensure all the appropriate steps are taken.
The court will hold a hearing in a guardianship case. This hearing determines whether the ward is incapacitated and if the proposed guardian is suitable. In hearings where there are no challenges to the process a guardianship may be approved without further delay. However, when no agreement can be reached on the petition the court may hold a trial to hear all the facts in the case. Witnesses and experts may testify to help the court render a decision.
Spencer and Jensen, LLC can assist you in filing a petition for guardianship. You’ll get help from experienced attorneys who will represent you every step of the way.