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Types of Guardianship

In Utah, there are two kinds of guardianships.  This is a bit like having two doors to choose from.  We can help you choose the best door for you.  

The first type we will discuss is a full, or plenary guardianship.  The second is a limited guardianship.  Part of creating a guardianship is determining how much authority the guardian will hold, and over what areas.  These determinations are informed by which level of guardianship is appropriate. 


A full guardianship is given only when the court finds that the protected person is unable to care for themselves at all, rather like a child.  Thus, the guardian is given the same responsibility as a parent would have for their own minor child. 

Even when full guardianship is given, the guardian is still required to encourage the protected person to act on their own behalf.  They must also take the protected person’s desires and values into mind when making decisions.  Further, the protected person retains their right to:

  • Practice religion

  • Make and keep personal relationships

  • Marry or divorce

  • Make or change a will or trust

  • Vote

  • Be represented by a lawyer

  • Control personal spending money

  • Consume legal substances

  • Request that the court end the guardianship

  • Request that the court change the guardian

Though full guardianships are possible, Utah courts favor granting limited guardianships so that the protected person retains as much personal choice and autonomy as possible.


A limited guardianship is a less restricted form of guardianship.  There are five main areas that it might cover:

  • Medical/ health or professional care, counsel, treatment, or service

  • Custody and residence

  • Care, comfort, and maintenance

  • Training and education

  • Personal effects (clothing, furniture, vehicles, etc.)

The protected person’s ability to make these decisions depends on their capacity.  However, the guardian should always honor the protected person’s privacy and must not restrict their personal liberty, communications, or social activity. 

The main difficulty in creating a limited guardianship is defining what authority should be given as the guardian only has those powers given them in the court order.  A guardian’s authority should be tailored to cover only those areas where the protected person is unable to care for themselves.  The language must be specific enough to describe the care that must be given, but general enough to be flexible.  If the guardian believes that they need some specific authority, it must be described and requested in the petition to appoint a guardian, or in a petition to amend the original appointment. 

When creating a guardianship, respecting the protected person’s autonomy is as important as safeguarding them. This is a delicate balance. Don’t navigate these intricacies in your own. Let us help. Contact us today.


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