Guardianship Services

iStock_000019506579SmallWhen a person no longer has the capacity to make personal and/or care decisions and they do not have a family member or significant other who is able/willing to be a guardian, a professional or corporate guardian, such as Guardian Advocate Services, LLC, may be appointed by the Court to serve in that role. As guardian, we advocate for and help the incapacitated person (often called a ward or protected person) to make their own decisions (if possible). Or, we make decisions on the ward’s behalf, if/when appropriate. Above all, we take action (24/7) to ensure the safety of the (now) protected person.

 

 

WHAT IS A GUARDIAN?

A guardian, sometimes called a guardian of person, is an individual or professional/corporate party that has been appointed by the Court to make personal and healthcare decisions on behalf of a person who has been determined to be incapacitated (by the Court) to make such decisions. Ideally, the guardian may be a trusted family member or significant other. If no family or friends are able/willing to serve in this capacity, the Court may appoint a professional or corporate party (public or private) to assume this responsibility.

Guardianships may be limited to certain tasks or powers (limited guardianships), particularly if the vulnerable person (often called a ward or protected person) still retains some capacity. A full (plenary) guardianship enables the guardian to make all (non-financial) decisions for the protected person, much as a parent has the responsibility to do for a minor child.

In spite of the guardian having significant agency/control, a trusted guardian will act as an advocate for the ward, and consider the current and/or past preferences/desires of the ward (principle of substituted judgement) when making decisions on the ward’s behalf. If it is not possible to learn about the ward’s preferences and/or if the ward is unable to communicate, the guardian will make decisions intended to be best for the ward (principle of best interest). The guardian has the charge to seek the least restrictive alternative possible in order to maximize the independence of the ward, while still ensuring safety.

As determined by the 1999 Legislature, Utah’s Office of Public Guardian (OPG) was established in response to long-standing concerns in the community about incapacitated adults without family or friends to serve in a guardianship capacity. For more information, visit OPG online at opg.utah.gov or call (801) 538-8255.

Guardians, whether individuals or professionals—or whether public or private entities, must follow standards set forth by their State Courts. Additionally, guardians should consider/follow guidelines published by the National Guardianship Association (NGA); for more information about the NGA, visit them online at guardianship.org or call (877) 326-5992.