How Does One Establish Guardianship in Utah?

Oct 27, 2021 | Elder Law, Estate Planning, Food for thought, General, Power of Attorney, Wills and Probate

There are several instances in which one may need to establish guardianship in Utah. Parents of a minor child can nominate a guardian for their child in the event that they are unable to care for them themselves. If you have a loved one who is an adult or will soon be an adult, but they are unable to manage and make decisions for themselves due to a disability, you might need to appeal to the court to seek guardianship. Whatever your reason for seeking guardianship, you might be asking yourself: How does one go about establishing that guardianship in the state of Utah?In this article, we’ll discuss what a guardian is, how to establish a guardianship, alternatives to guardianship, and what you can expect when you petition the court. 

What Is A Guardian?

A guardian is a person who has the legal authority to protect the interests of another, and guardianship is a legal process of establishing a responsible person to make decisions for another person.Courts appoint guardians to handle the affairs of incompetent individuals or children who are wards of the state. Since guardianship takes away a person’s rights, it should only be an option after all other alternatives have proven to be unsuccessful. Obtaining guardianship of a minor or an incapacitated individual can be a complicated process in Utah. It helps to have an experienced attorney to guide you and prepare you for any of the challenges that come along the way.

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How To Establish Guardianship Of A Minor

Courts typically honor guardianship nominations explicitly made by a parent. However, these nominations are not usually made. In the more likely case that a parent has not specifically nominated a guardian, the person who desires guardianship must apply and continue through the process, as we will discuss below.Note: In some cases, the court can challenge guardianship if they feel that someone is not suitable to be the child’s guardian or their guardianship is not in the child’s best interest.

1. File a Petition

To establish guardianship of a minor, one must first file a petition with the district court to initiate the legal process. In some cases, the respondent might be the minor’s biological parent or current legal guardian. 

2. Investigate 

Once you file a petition with the courts, you will have to investigate whether you are mentally and financially fit to be a legal guardian. The courts will need to see that you’re able to provide for the child’s needs. 

3. Testify 

The final part of this process is to testify in court. You’ll have to appear in front of a judge, and you will be allowed to state why you would be an appropriate guardian for the child. The court will then consider the testimony and all other information to make an informed decision in the best interest of the child.

Alternatives To Guardianship

In some circumstances, guardianship may not be the right answer. If that is the case, there are alternatives to the guardianship of a minor and an adult:

Conservatorship –

A conservator manages the individual finances and estate. In instances where a minor has received an inheritance or government benefits, conservatorship might be necessary. For adults with limited capacity, a conservator can help manage and make decisions regarding their financial matters. 

Power Of Attorney

Depending on the situation, a child may only need to be in the custody of someone other than their parent temporarily. In such cases, granting the individual power of attorney over their child allows them to make legal decisions for the child for a specified amount of time. In addition, power of attorney might be fitting for adults who are disabled or have limited capacity. Power of attorney allows a responsible adult to make crucial medical and financial decisions. 

What To Expect When Petitioning For Guardianship

If you petition for guardianship or conservatorship of a loved one, the Court will ask that you prove their specific incapacity. This can be done by submitting a letter from a medical doctor or psychological evaluation results. When you petition the court for guardianship, it can happen overnight in emergency situations or take approximately one to two months from the date the petition is filed for the Court to grant guardianship. 

Plan For The Future: Plan For Guardianship 

It’s important to take your future into your own hands. Allowing the courts to appoint a guardian for you disallows you the power to decide for yourself how you wish for yourself or your children to be cared for. Don’t wait until it’s too late to plan for the possibility. If you are petitioning for guardianship, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side as well. At Proven Law, our years of expertise and proven practices are employed to offer clarity, resolution, and peace for our clients and their loved ones. Whether you need to adjust an existing trust or are looking to create a new one, to draft a power of attorney or a will, or to plan for your estate in any other capacity, please contact us for your complimentary personal consultation and we’ll get you on the road to peace of mind.

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