Alternatives to Guardianships
It may be the case that appointing a guardian is not the best choice for you and your loved one. There are other legal relationships that can be put in place, and we’re going to discuss them here.
Durable Power of Attorneys
A power of attorney is a legal document in which a principal gives an agent, or attorney in fact, authority to act on their behalf. A "durable" power of attorney means that the agent can act even if the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated. A power of attorney created under Utah law is durable unless it expressly states that it is terminated by the incapacity of the principal.
The power of attorney can be very broad, giving the agent the power to perform a variety of tasks, including legal, financial, business, and/ or medical decisions. It can also be limited only granting the agent authority over one very specific task, like selling a particular piece of property. This can be very helpful when planning for what to do in case of mental incapacitation.
Concerning minor children, a child might need to be in the temporary custody of someone other than their parents. In those circumstances, a parent or legal guardian can delegate their decision-making authority to another adult. This can last for up to six months by executing a power of attorney.
We discussed the differences between guardians and conservators in an earlier blog post. If you would like to read a more in-depth treatment of this subject, click here to read the post: https://www.skvlegal.com/post/guardians-vs-conservators
A conservator is given authority only over a ward’s finances. Like a guardian, a conservator must be appointed by a court order. However, unlike a guardian, a conservator cannot make personal decisions for their ward.
Once appointed, a conservator becomes a trustee of the ward’s estate, and possesses all of the authority given by law to conservators, additional authority given to trustees, and the authority of the protected person, except the power to change a will. If your loved one only needs help in governing their finances, a conservatorship might be the best legal relationship to install.
Again concerning minor children, often a conservator is needed for a child if they are about to receive an inheritance, government benefits, insurance or annuity benefits, or damages that result from a civil lawsuit.
Legal Relationships Exclusively for Minor Children
The next two relationships only pertain to minor children.
Some Utah school boards have the authority to issue a school-based guardianship, appointing a responsible adult who is 21 years of age or older, and residing in the school district, and who is willing to provide adequate food, clothing, and supervision, as legal guardian for a minor child.
Of course, adoption is always an option for minor children. In that case, either the parental rights of the child’s legal parents are terminated either by the parent’s consent to an adoption, or by court order. The adoptive parents are then vested with all parental rights over the child.
If you are not sure of what legal relationship is best for your circumstances, contact us today. We will review your case with you and help you find the best option for you and yours.