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This is the personal blog of Sterling Olander, a Certified Public Accountant and Utah-licensed attorney. For over thirteen years, I have assisted clients with estate planning and administration, tax mitigation, tax controversies, small business planning, asset protection, and nonprofit law.

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Utah Adult Guardianship Appointment Procedures

Individuals who have executed an advance health care directive and power of attorney are far less likely to need a court-appointed guardian or conservator. However, those who did not execute such forms while they had capacity, and sometimes even those who have executed such forms, may need a guardianship and conservatorship. Below are the minimum requirements in securing a guardianship and conservatorship in a common scenario where a child of an elderly, incapacitated parent seeks guardianship and conservatorship over the parent. The following procedures assume that the parent is unmarried with no living parents, one of their children seeks appointment without objection from a sibling, and the incapacitated person attends the guardianship hearing and requires a full guardianship:

1. The first step is to gather the necessary information and documentation needed for the Petition for Guardianship and Conservatorship. The Utah Courts website provides a form on its website, but the form is for a petition for guardianship only. The Utah Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) has forms for a guardianship and conservatorship.

2. Individuals who will be subject to a guardianship need to be represented by an attorney, so the next step is to identify such an attorney. Many attorneys in Utah will charge a modest fee to represent an incapacitated person needing a guardianship; alternatively, the Guardianship Signature Program seeks to provide free attorneys for indigent incapacitated persons. To ask the court to appoint an attorney for the incapacitated person, prepare a Request to Appoint, Order Appointing Attorney, and Request to Submit for Decision.

3. All proposed guardians and conservators are required to review the Guidelines for Guardians and Conservators and take the accompanying Pre-Appointment Test. The proposed guardian will then need to sign a Declaration of Completion for filing with the court.

4. Prepare the other necessary court documents, which include an Acceptance of Appointment, whereby the guardian accepts the fiduciary role and subjects themselves to Utah law, a Cover Sheet, a private Information Sheet, a proposed Guardianship Order, and Letters. (Note that the linked Order and Letters do not include a conservatorship; see the OCAP program linked above for more comprehensive forms).

5. File the Cover Sheet, Petition, Acceptance, Declaration of Completion, and appointment forms for the incapacitated person's attorney. A doctor's letter or evaluation of the proposed ward's capacity must also be filed with the court. The court should sign the Order Appointing Attorney to represent the ward, schedule a hearing, and send notices of the hearing to all of the interested persons listed with the Petition. The attorney for the ward can agree to accept service of the Petition on behalf of the ward.

6. Five days prior to the hearing, file the proposed Guardianship Order and Letters with the court. Also prior to the hearing, ensure that the proposed ward has had the opportunity to meet with his or her court-appointed attorney. At the hearing, the judge will likely ask to hear from the proposed guardian and conservator, the incapacitated person, and the incapacitated person's attorney. Assuming that no one objects and all of the aforementioned documents have been properly completed and filed, the court is likely to appoint the proposed guardian and conservator.