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Guardianship may be necessary in the following situations in Utah: when an elderly person is unable to care for themselves, when a special needs person reaches the age of 18 but is unable to take on adult responsibilities, or when a minor child’s parents are unable to provide care.

To obtain guardianship, approval from a court is required and the court takes this decision very seriously. Before granting guardianship, the court must determine that it is in the best interest of the proposed ward and that the proposed guardian is capable and willing to care for them. The process may include a court-ordered home visit, an attorney appointed to represent the ward’s interests, doctor evaluations and a court hearing. The court also considers the ward’s ability to maintain self-reliance and independence, and makes decisions based on the ward’s mental and adaptive limitations. The process may also include a review of the ward’s financial affairs.

Special Considerations Related to Guardianships

Guardianship and conservatorship for the elderly can be avoided through proper planning and implementing an estate plan. This can be achieved by placing assets in a living trust and appointing someone to handle financial and medical decisions through financial and medical powers of attorney.

Having a guardianship in place is important for special needs adults when they reach the age of 18. Parents may be surprised to learn that they need to obtain guardianship and conservatorship for their special needs children when they reach the age of majority, as they are entitled to the same rights as any other adult. Establishing proper guardianship and conservatorship when a special needs adult reaches the age of majority can ensure that parents maintain legal authority and responsibility for matters such as finances, education, medical care, and living arrangements.

Utah law provides resources for grandparents (and sometimes siblings or other family members or friends) who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their grandchildren. In certain situations, financial assistance in the form of grants may be available to help with the costs associated with raising grandchildren.

Creating a will or trust that designates a guardian for your minor children in the event of your untimely death can prevent costly and emotionally challenging litigation. Many people don’t consider this provision when drafting a will or trust while they are still young and have children at home.


Stepparent adoptions happen frequently when one parent has remarried and the new spouse wishes to legally adopt the child as their own.

Utah law requires that a man who claims to be the father of a child born out of wedlock must file a claim with the state in order to maintain his status as the father, according to Utah Code § 16-1513.

Grandparent adoptions are becoming increasingly prevalent, and happen when grandparents adopt their grandchildren. In some cases, resources may be available to assist grandparents who are going through the process of adopting their grandchild. Adoptions through an agency are also common, where a private or state agency helps connect birth parents with adoptive parents.

The Office of Indian Affairs states on its website that “The purpose of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to protect the best interest of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children and placement of such children in homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture.”

The process of adopting a child involves various steps that vary depending on the type of adoption. However, all adoption cases require court approval and the filing of a petition. The specific requirements of the adoption may differ depending on the circumstances.

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