One of the greatest challenges we can face is trying to care for loved ones who lack the capacity to manage for themselves. Often, the greatest impediment is the absence of legal authority to act for the welfare of another, and that’s where a guardianship and/or conservatorship can be immensely helpful. Skabelund Wirig & Loos, we help concerned adults gain the legal authority to act in the best interests of another person. If you are concerned about the welfare of a loved one, we can explain your options, and guide you through the process of being appointed a guardian or conservator.
The terms guardianship and conservatorship have different meanings in different states. In Utah, the terms refer to authority over different areas affecting the ward or conservatee.
Under certain circumstances, a guardian or conservator may receive reasonable compensation from the ward’s estate for the performance of their duties, if the court approves.
To be appointed a guardian or conservator, you must petition the court. In the case of a minor child, lack of capacity is a matter of law, but a judge can still consider a mature child’s preferences. In the case of an older adult, you must be prepared to prove the adult’s incapacity to a judge.
Since the premise behind a guardian or conservator’s appointment is the ward’s lack of capacity, the ward also lacks the capacity to enter into a legal agreement. Therefore, a court must make the appointment. In many cases, the appointment comes over the objection of the ward, who is entitled to legal representation. The result can be a painful legal battle.
To avoid the downside of litigating an appointment, you can attempt, while your loved one still retains mental capacity, to arrange for a voluntary transfer of authority under a power of attorney document. A power of attorney can be limited in scope, allowing you to help manage your loved one’s finances and make medical decisions if he or she becomes incapacitated. Older adults often object to powers of attorney at first but in time come to appreciate the protections they offer. You can update powers of attorney as your elder loved one’s condition changes. Having an established power of attorney can make it easier to become a guardian or conservator later on.
There are many issues to consider if you are contemplating a guardianship or conservatorship. Do you fully understand the duties you’d be taking on? Do you appreciate the risk of personal liability for financial mistakes? How will your loved one react? Can you obtain an appointment without a contentious court battle? When you come to Skabelund Wirig & Loos for assistance, you get the benefit of our experience, which spans decades. We are prepared to give you the personal attention your case requires and to handle all matters with the utmost delicacy and professionalism.
If you need legal authority to care for a vulnerable loved one, Skabelund Wirig & Loos is prepared to help. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced and concerned attorney, call us at 801-788-4447 or contact our office online. We are conveniently located at 1149 West Center Street in Orem, just off I-15.