How do I Become a Guardian for a Loved One?

If you have a loved one who is no longer able to take care of him/herself, you may want to consider being appointed as a guardian. A guardian is an individual appointed by the court to be a substitute decision-maker for another person. The procedure for having incapacity declared is strictly governed by law, not by what a physician says. However, medical information is necessary to assist the court in making its decision. Thus, it is important to have a knowledgeable lawyer assist you in the guardianship process.

You begin the process by filing a petition with the court to determine incapacity and appoint a guardian for your loved one (the “respondent”). The petition must be properly served on the respondent. Utah law requires the respondent to be represented by a lawyer, whom the respondent may choose or the court can appoint one.

The respondent is typically examined by a physician. The respondent must attend the hearing, or if he/she is unable to do so, the court will appoint an objective party called the “court visitor” to investigate the ability of the respondent to appear unless clear and convincing evidence has been presented as to why the respondent cannot attend (such as being in a coma)

After hearing all of the evidence regarding the respondent’s incapacity, the court will decide if a guardian should be appointed. Once a guardian is appointed, the respondent is called a “ward.” Depending on the severity of the incapacity, the guardian will be given limited powers or full authority to act for the ward. A limited guardianship means that the guardian only has the decision-making authority in defined or limited areas of the ward’s life. A plenary or full guardianship transfers all rights from a ward to a guardian.

The guardianship process can be emotional and overwhelming. Let us help you decide if it is the right decision for your loved one. 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.