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The Basics of Guardianships

My name is Katie Kinikini, and I want to take a minute to explain a little bit about guardianships.

We all want to take care of our family members to the very best of our ability. But, if you have a family member with atypical needs, it might not be clear how to do that. Appointing a legal guardian might be the best way to ensure that your loved one receives the best protection and guidance possible.

What is a Guardianship?

A guardianship allows an appointed person, or guardian, to act on behalf of someone who is unable to care for themselves as though they were that person. It is not unlike a parent/child relationship, except that the guardian is not legally responsible for the acts of the person they care for.

Three Types of Guardianships

There are three groups of people who qualify for guardianships:

- Minor children whose parents are not their guardians

- Minor children with disabilities who are about to become adults

- Adults with diminished capacity

So, if your family member falls into one of these groups, we could likely help you appoint a guardian for them. Though each group requires slightly different procedures, they are related, and we can help in each case and will discuss each type more explicitly in upcoming blog posts.

Different Levels of Authority

Guardians must be appointed through an order by a judge. Under Utah law, there are two forms of guardianship, a full or plenary guardianship, and a limited guardianship. Utah favors appointing guardians with limited authority where a guardian’s authority is tailored to protect the person’s needs and abilities.

Limited guardians only possess the authority outlined in the court order. Thus, when creating a limited guardianship, the challenge is accurately describing the necessary authority as the language must be clear, but also general enough to be flexible. Some common areas where guardians may need the authority to make decisions are:

- Education

- Health care

- Residence

- Care, comfort, and maintenance

- Personal effects

- Safeguarding personal property

- Receiving and applying money to provide for the protected person

In cases where the Court decides that a protected person needs a full guardianship, it can grant that level of authority to a guardian. In those instances, the guardian is vested with the same power and has the same responsibilities as a parent for their minor child.

We understand that making these sorts of decisions can be overwhelming and are more than happy to discuss your specific case and needs, and to draft a petition that will best serve your family member.

How Can We Help You?

Regardless of the type and level of authority your loved one requires in a guardianship, we can take your case through the court procedure from beginning to end. Call us for a fee consultation and to discuss the details of your case.


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