Welcome to CPA at Law, helping individuals and small businesses plan for the future and keep what they have.

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

I write about any legal, tax, or technological information that I find interesting or useful in serving my clients. All ideas expressed herein are my own and don't constitute legal or tax advice.

Petition for Essential Treatment and Intervention

As I discussed in a prior post, completing a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment can be a useful way for someone with drug abuse or mental health challenges to provide for their own care if they reach a point where they can no longer care for themselves. If a Declaration is not completed, and the person becomes at risk of harming themselves or others, seeking an emergency guardianship from a court may be considered. Such motions can be ex-parte, meaning that no notice or hearing is required, and if granted, an emergency guardianship lasts for 30 days.

A third option, however, for cases of drug abuse, is known as a Petition for Essential Treatment and Intervention, which became available in 2017 pursuant to Utah Code 62A-15-1201. This law was passed to "address the serious public health crisis of substance use disorder related deaths". The proceeding commences in court when a "relative seeking essential treatment and intervention for a sufferer of a substance use disorder" files a petition with the district court where the sufferer lives.

The petition must identify a treatment facility where the sufferer may receive treatment and a binding commitment on the part of the petitioner to pay for treatment costs. Upon receiving the petition, the court will "set an expedited date for a time-sensitive hearing to determine whether the court should order the respondent to undergo essential treatment for a substance use disorder" and provide notice of the same to the interested parties. Unless the sufferer objects or the court orders otherwise, two essential treatment examiners will examine the sufferer before the hearing and make treatment recommendations to the court. If the court ultimately finds that treatment is required, it can order treatment and subject the sufferer to a warrant of commitment if they do not comply.

A Petition for Essential Treatment and Intervention is confidential, and the Utah Courts website provides all of the necessary forms for individuals who want to proceed without an attorney. While such a petition is not a panacea, it should at least be considered as an alternative to a guardianship.