Guardianship & Conservatorship

A conservatorship and/or guardianship allows someone to act for someone else. A conservatorship/guardianship cannot be created voluntarily. It is granted by a judge. A guardianship is similar to a parent/child relationship, except that a guardian is not held legally responsible for the acts of the other person, and a guardian does not have to use his or her own money to provide for the other. They are generally ordered when someone can no longer take care of themselves. For instance, if a person becomes mentally incapacitated and is no longer able to make knowledgeable decisions about his or her own welfare, a conservatorship or guardianship will need to be obtained. This involves obtaining a judgment from the court and the appointment of a caretaker by the court.

Some of the most frequently asked questions about Guardianships and Conservatorships are:

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        • Like a power of attorney, a guardianship allows someone else to act as if they were you.  Unlike a power of attorney, a guardianship cannot be created voluntarily.  It is granted by a judge.  A guardianship is similar to a parent/child relationship, except that a guardian is not held legally responsible for the acts of the other person and guardians do not have to use their own money to provide for the other.  They are generally given when someone may no longer take care of themselves or a minor under their control.  Guardianships may be granted to take care of adults and/or children.
        • Conservatorships are similar to guardianships but they only give a person the power to manage someone else's property and finances.  A conservator may not make personal decisions for someone such as where they will live.  Guardians have the authority to make even that decision.
        • As mentioned earlier, guardianships and conservatorships may only be created by filing an action with the Court.  By law, if the guardianship is for an adult, the Court will appoint an attorney to represent that person.  In the case of a guardianship of a child, if there is a question on what is in the child’s best interests, the court may also appoint a lawyer to represent the child in the court action.  Once the court establishes a guardianship, the guardian must give notice of acceptance of the new relationship.  The forms necessary to file a guardianship on behalf of a child are available on the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) at www.utcourts.gov/ocap.
        • If a guardianship/conservatorship is for a minor child, the guardianship/conservatorship automatically ends when the minor child turns 18.  A guardianship and/or conservatorship is also terminated when either party dies.   In addition, a guardianship and/or conservatorship may be terminated using the same process that it took to create it.  In other words, a person may file paperwork with the court that created the relationship asking the court to end the relationship.  This may be done by the person who is guardian or by the person who has a guardian.  The court will generally not require someone to act as guardian, but if a guardianship is still needed, the court will not end the guardianship until it is able to find a new guardian.
The information in this site is not intended as legal advice.
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