We believe everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
Everyday we strive to provide the best services available to those individuals who have been deemed by a court of law to be incapacitated, incompetent or legally disabled.

Commonly Asked Questions About Guardianship

  1. Why do I have to seek guardianship of my special needs child? I am the parent!

    When first confronted with the notion that even though you are the parent of a person with a disability you must also become the legal guardian, you may be shocked and outraged. You have been making decisions for your child since birth. It is obvious to all that your child has a disability and you assume that because of this you can legally make decisions for your child. The law states that the age of majority for males and female shall be 18 years of age. This applies to all individuals regardless of their ability. At age 18 a person becomes legally competent whether they are functionally competent or not. If a parent wants to continue to make legally binding decisions for their child after the age of 18, the parent must go through the legal process of establishing guardianship through a court.

  2. If I don’t seek guardianship, will the state seek guardianship of my family member?

    No. This is a long-standing myth! The state of Utah has a guardianship statute that clearly indicates that family should always be considered the guardian if they are able and willing to do so. The Office of Public Guardian in the state of Utah seeks guardianship of a very small number of individuals. This usually occurs when there is an emergent situation and there is not family able or willing to step in. The state is considered the guardian of last resort. The state does not have the resources to maintain guardianship of a large group of individuals.

  3. If I become someone’s guardian, will I be responsible for all of that person’s bills?

    Many parents and children have been frightened of becoming guardian because they are afraid of the financial liability. The truth is that the probate court protects guardians from financial liability, even guardians who have financial guardianship or conservatorship, in that anyone seeking payment or damages may only go after the ward’s estate. If the ward has only SSI benefits, this is all anyone can go after.

  4. What is the difference between being someone’s guardian and being someone’s conservator?

    Guardianship has to do with making decisions for a person and their body, their treatment and where they live. Being a conservator means making financial decisions and managing a person’s finances. Utah’s statute also allows for financial guardianship. This is applicable if a person has assets below $50,000. If a person only has limited assets such as SSI than a financial guardianship might be all that is needed. If the person has a home, large bank account or stocks/bonds, conservator might be needed.

  5. What are the different types of guardianship?

    The state of Utah allows for two types of guardianship. These include a plenary (full) or limited guardianship. The Utah Probate Code has established two types of guardianship. The first is called Plenary or Full Guardianship. A Plenary guardianship transfers all rights from a ward to a guardian. Due to the prohibitive nature of Plenary guardianship, judges in most district courts are hesitant to grant them. A Plenary guardianship can be granted, but be prepared for tougher scrutiny from the courts during the petition process. The second type of guardianship is referred to as Limited Guardianship. Limited guardianship means that a guardian has decision-making authority in limited areas in a ward’s life. Judges are more open to limited guardianship because there is the feeling that it maintains as many of the ward’s rights as possible. During the petition process the petitioner/guardian can ask the court to grant them as many limits as they feel is necessary to best assist the ward. There are essentially five main areas of limited guardianship that include medical, habilitative (training/treatment), educational, residential and financial guardianship.

  6. When does someone need a guardian?

    When an adult (someone over 18) can represent himself, speak on his own behalf, give informed consent, formulate and apply judgment, understand likely consequences of behavior, he probably does not need a guardian. When an adult cannot do these things he may benefit from a guardian. Every case for guardianship must be evaluated on an individual basis.

  7. Does a person who is having a guardianship established have to go to court?

    Yes, guardianship is a court matter and does include a hearing before a judge. A person having a guardianship established does have Due Process Rights and has the legal right to be heard in court. Sometimes a person who is going to have a guardianship established for them can be excused from court. This will require a doctor’s letter explaining why the person cannot be in court.

  8. Who needs legal representation in a guardianship proceeding?

    The ward (the person who is having a guardianship established for them) MUST have an attorney. This is called due process and cannot be waived for any reason. The petitioner (the person who is requesting the guardianship) can have legal representation or they can choose to represent themselves. This is called Pro Se representation.

  9. When should I begin the guardianship process?

    If you are seeking guardianship of a person who is over the age of 18, you can begin the process at any time. If you are seeking guardianship of a person who will be turning 18 and you would like to have the guardianship established as soon as they turn 18, we suggest that you start the process 2-3 months before the 18th birthday. There is a myth that parents need to seek guardianship before their child turns 18. This is not accurate. Guardianship of an incapacitated adult can only be established when that person is over the age of 18. You can file a guardianship petition before a person turns 18, but only about 3-4 weeks before to ensure that the actual hearing is established on or after the 18th birthday.

  10. What are the costs associated with guardianship?

    For every guardianship case there are legal fees and court fees. Legal fees are paid to an attorney for legal representation of the petitioner and the ward. If a petitioner chooses to represent themselves (Pro Se) they can save the cost of legal representation for the petitioner. Since the ward must always be represented there will be costs associated with that representation. The court has a filing fee for any guardianship case. This fee is currently $360.00. The court does have a fee waiver program in place. Petitioners can have their filing fee waived if they qualify through this program. (Refer to Services and Fees for our programs).

  11. How many guardians can there be for one person?

    The court allows for up to 3 guardians for one ward (protected person). These individuals are called co-guardians.