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Different Levels of Guardianships

A guardianship is used to protect a person who cannot make decisions for themselves or their property.

In such situations, a court has the power to appoint a guardian to make decisions on behalf of the “protected person.”

In Utah there are two kinds of guardianships, full and limited guardianships. Each of these guardianships gives different levels of authority over the protected person to the guardian. Because granting someone power and authority over another is unusual, an important aspect of establishing a guardianship is determining how much authority the guardian needs hold and over what areas.

Full or Plenary Guardianships

Full guardianships, also known as plenary guardianships, are used only when a court finds that the person to be protected cannot care for themselves at all. Courts may be hesitant to grant full guardianship because they want the protected person to retain as much autonomy as possible. A full guardianship relationship resembles that of a parent and minor child. But, even though a full guardian has the power to make decisions on behalf of the person, they must take that person’s desires into account when making decisions and even encourage them to act on their own behalf.

Under this kind of guardianship, the protected person keeps their rights to practice religion, vote, marry or divorce, make or change a Will or Trust, be represented by a lawyer, and control their money. The protected person may also request that a court end the guardianship or request that the court change the guardian.

Limited Guardianships

Alternatively, a court may grant a limited guardianship. A limited guardianship places less restriction on decisions that the protected person can make for themselves. Limited guardianships often cover things like medical care, custody, residence, training and education, personal effects. A guardian in such a situation should always honor the protected person’s privacy and must not restrict their personal liberty, communications, or social activity.

The main difficulty in establishing a limited guardianship is deciding what areas the guardian should have control over. If a limited guardian believes that some specific authority is necessary, they must request that authority in a petition to the court because the guardian can only exercise those powers given by a court order. A limited guardian’s authority should be limited to those areas where the protected person is unable to care for themselves.

When creating a guardianship, respecting the protected person’s autonomy is as important as safeguarding them. If you think a guardianship might be right for you and your loved one, contact us today. We want to help you navigate the difficulties of creating a guardianship with the right balance of allowing the protected person personal choice while also protecting their best interest.

If you would like to schedule a consultation, reach out to us today.



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