What is the Difference Between a Guardian and a Conservator?

The terms “guardian” and “conservator” are often used interchangeably because they are related concepts, but they have two different and distinct meanings in Utah. It is important to understand these differences when making plans for the care of your loved ones or for yourself.


The appointment of a guardian allows that person to make decisions about another person’s or the “ward’s” well-being. As a result, the guardian should be somebody you trust to act in the ward’s best mental and physical interests. A guardian is often appointed by parents who wish to provide for their children’s care in the event they both should die. A guardian can also be appointed to assist a ward who cannot take care of themselves due to age or disability. The guardian is responsible for taking care of the ward’s daily living needs. A guardianship can be limited if the ward is able to take care of themselves partially but not completely.


A conservator is appointed to handle a ward’s finances and assets. When you appoint a conservator, you want to select somebody who will act prudently in handling the ward’s estate. A conservator can be appointed to manage the estate of a minor who is too young to handle it, or because the ward is not mentally capable to do so. Unfortunately, you may not be able to select the person who acts for you if you are already incapacitated. Further, you don’t have the right to select a Conservator for a minor child.

A professional institution or an individual can be appointed by a court to serve as a guardian or conservator. In many cases, the person or institution can serve in both roles and take care of the ward’s daily living needs and their financial needs. Depending on the circumstances, this may or may not be advisable.

While guardians and conservators are important tools for protecting persons who are underage or have disabilities, when it comes to protecting assets, the use of a trust is far superior to use of a conservatorship. You retain control because you choose who becomes your trustee and how assets are managed.

If you have questions regarding appointing a guardian or conservator for a loved one or for yourself, contact us to schedule an initial consultation.

The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.