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Conservatorship of a Minor

This page is for the appointment by the district court of an individual, usually a family member, to serve as conservator for a minor. Its primary focus is on procedures when everyone is agreeing and cooperating. This page does not include information or forms for litigating the appointment of a conservator.

The information and forms on this page can be used to appoint a conservator to receive an inheritance for a minor or to receive money damages for the minor from civil litigation, but it does not include information about probate of wills or the administration of estates, nor does it contain information about claims for damages.

For information about child protection by the juvenile court, see our webpage on Child Protective Orders and Child Welfare.

For information and forms to appoint a conservator for an adult see our page Procedure for Appointing a Conservator for an Adult. For information and forms to appoint a guardian for a minor see our page Guardianship of a Minor.



Talk to an attorney

The information on this page is not a substitute for legal advice. You are not required to hire an attorney, but conservatorship of a minor can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. One way to talk to an attorney is to visit a free legal clinic. Clinics provide general legal information and give brief legal advice. You might also hire an attorney for just part of your case or to do one particular thing, rather than represent you for the whole case. For more information, see our webpage on Finding Legal Help.


Reasons for appointing a conservator

Utah Code Section 75-5-401 permits the district court to appoint a conservator for a minor if:

  • the minor owns property that requires management or protection which cannot otherwise be provided;
  • the minor's business affairs may be jeopardized; or
  • a conservator is needed to obtain or provide funds for the minor's support and education.

Often a conservator is needed if the minor is about to receive an inheritance, government benefits, insurance or annuity benefits or damages as a result of a civil lawsuit.


Procedure for appointing a conservator

This is a general description of the most common procedures, but some procedures may vary from court to court. And the judge may require procedures not described here based on the circumstances of a case.

Petition to appoint a conservator

Any adult person who is interested in the minor's estate, affairs, or welfare may file the petition. The petitioner may request that s/he or someone else be appointed conservator. The petitioner must file the petition in the county in which the minor resides or, if the minor does not reside in Utah, in the county in which the minor has property. There is a filing fee, but the fee can be waived. For more information, see our pages on Filing Procedures, Fees, and Fee Waiver.

Service of the notice of hearing

Who must be served and how they must be served are governed by Utah Code Section 75-5-405, Section 75-5-406 and Section 75-1-401.

The petitioner must serve notice of the hearing on the minor, if the minor is 14 or older, and on the minor's parents. The minor and minor's parents must be personally served in a manner permitted by URCP 4 if they are in Utah. If they are not in Utah, they can be served by first class mail or other method permitted by URCP 5.

If the person to be served cannot be found, they can be served by alternative means. For more information and forms, see our page on Alternative Service.

The petitioner must also serve notice of the hearing on any interested person who has requested service under Utah Code Section 75-5-406 or who has been ordered by the court to be served. The documents can be served by first class mail or other method permitted by URCP 5.

Proof of service must be filed with the court. For more information and forms, see our page on Serving Papers.

Objecting to the petition

Usually a party "answers" a petition, but in a conservatorship, any person served with notice may "object" to the petition. The person may file a written objection before the hearing or appear at the hearing to raise the objection verbally.

Lawyer for the minor

The minor has the right to be represented by a lawyer of his or her choice, but a lawyer for the minor is not required. If the judge determines that the interests of the minor are inadequately represented, s/he may appoint an attorney to represent the minor. An attorney appointed to represent a minor has the powers and duties of a guardian ad litem, which is an attorney who represents the minor's best interests.

Mediation

If someone objects, the judge might require the parties to mediate their dispute before proceeding to trial. For more information, see our page on Alternative Dispute Resolution In Probate.

Hearing

The court clerk will set a date for a hearing when the petition is filed. This hearing is not a trial with testimony by witnesses, although the judge may ask questions. The judge will consider:

  • whether the petitioner has the necessary claims and proof;
  • whether proper notice of the hearing has been given;
  • whether there is a need to appoint a lawyer to represent the minor;
  • whether the necessary documents have been filed;
  • whether the proposed conservator is willing to serve;
  • whether the proposed conservator is required to take the conservatorship test and file the declaration of completion of testing; and
  • whether there are any objections.

Unless someone objects to the petition, the judge may appoint the conservator at the hearing. If there is an objection, the case will be referred to mediation or set for trial at which the petitioner will have to prove the claims made in the petition.

For more information about how to present yourself at the hearing, see our page on Going to Court.

Pre-appointment test

Rule 6-501 requires that, before a person can be appointed as conservator, the person must take a test about their authority and responsibilities and file a Declaration of Certificate of Testing with the court. The law does not require a test for a conservator licensed under the Title 7, Chapter 5, Trust Business or for a parent appointed as conservator of their child.

The test is not meant to screen anyone out of their role as conservator; it is meant to reinforce some of the responsibilities of the office. It is permitted to complete the test before appointment and file the form with the petition.

For more information and forms, see our page on Conservatorship and Conservatorship Pre-appointment Tests.

Order and letter of conservatorship

If the judge is satisfied that there is a basis for making the appointment, s/he will enter an order appointing a conservator, and the clerk of court issue a letter of conservatorship that will conform to the order.

Your letter of conservatorship is proof of your authority to make decisions and act on the minor's behalf, and you will present this to others — such as insurance agents, schools, banks, and other individuals and institutions — when that person asks for a record of your authority. Some persons might ask for a photocopy, which you or they can make. Others might need a certified copy. A certified copy is treated like an original and is available only from the court. There is a fee for a certified copy, and you may want to keep a few certified copies handy for convenient use. For information about fees, see our page on Fees.

The original order and letter of conservatorship will remain in the court file, which you may access any time the court is open.


Reports required from the conservator

If you are a parent who has been appointed as conservator of your minor child, you do not have to file an inventory or an annual accounting, unless ordered to do so by the judge. Otherwise, Utah Code Section 75-5-418 requires that most conservators file an inventory of the minor's estate within 90 days after being appointed. And Utah Code Section 75-5-417 requires that most conservators file an annual financial accounting with the court.  The court can impose a $5,000 penalty if you:

  • willfully fail to file a report;
  • make a substantial misstatement in a report; or
  • are guilty of gross impropriety in handling the minor's property.

Even if the annual accountings are not required, you still owe to the minor the duty to budget, invest and use the minor's estate to meet his or her needs. In other words, you have all of the Authority and Responsibilities of a Conservator, but you do not have to report to the court, unless ordered to do so by the judge.

Inventory of the minor's income and property

Except for parent-conservators, within 90 days after being appointed, the conservator must identify, locate and inventory the minor's property and file the inventory with the court. Utah Code Section 75-5-418. You can use the Inventory Report in the Forms section below.

As soon as possible after your appointment, you should find out what income and benefits the minor is receiving or has a right to receive. Some types of income the minor may be receiving or may have a right to receive include:

  • government benefits such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), veterans benefits, and welfare benefits;
  • wages owed to the minor;
  • settlements from injury or other lawsuits;
  • money from trusts, estate, insurance and annuities;
  • child support.

How to make claims for payment is beyond the scope of this page. The Social Security Administration (ssa.gov) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (va.gov) require that you be appointed as representative payee to collect benefits on the minor's behalf, at least in some circumstances. To find out how to become representative payee, contact the administration that pays the benefits.

You should also identify and locate the minor's property.

Once you have identified and located the minor's property, you must make an inventory of it, including the value of the property. There is no rule for how to describe property in the inventory. You will want to be thorough and reasonably detailed.

Once you have identified the minor's property and estimated its value, prepare and file the inventory with the court. If more property is discovered later, file an amended inventory. You can use the Inventory Report in the Forms section below.

Conservator's annual accounting

Except for parent-conservators, the conservator must annually account to the court for the minor's estate. Utah Code Section 75-5-417. The accounting reports the changes from year-to-year in the minor's income and assets that were identified in the inventory.

If the minor's estate is limited to payments from a state or federal agency that requires an annual accounting, you may file with the court a copy of the agency's form rather than the court form. Otherwise, you may use the Financial Accounting in the Forms section below.

Conservator's final accounting

Except for parent-conservators, the conservator must file a final accounting with the court if:

  • the conservator resigns or is removed;
  • the minor dies, is adopted, reaches majority (age 18) or is emancipated; or
  • the court ends the conservatorship.

You may use the Financial Accounting in the Forms section below. The reporting period will be from the date of the most recently filed accounting to the date the conservatorship ends or the date the conservator resigns or is removed. Utah Code Section 75-5-419.

You should consult a lawyer about the proper procedures to end the appointment and turn over the minor's estate. For more information, see the section of this page Ending a conservatorship .

Reporting procedures

The deadlines for the reports are:

Document

Due Date

Inventory Within 90 days after the appointment.
Annual Accounting Report Within 60 days after each anniversary of the appointment.
Final Accounting Report Upon resignation or removal of the conservator or upon termination of the conservatorship.

File the documents with the court that made the appointment unless there has been a change of venue. Keep a copy of all documents that you file. You must serve a copy of the inventory and accounting, along with a notice of right to object, on:

  • the minor (if s/he is of an appropriate age and mental capacity to understand the proceedings);
  • the minor's guardian (if the court has appointed one other than yourself);
  • the minor's parents; and
  • anyone requesting notice under Utah Code Section 75-5-406.

Code of Judicial Administration Rule 6-501.

You may serve the documents by mail, email or hand delivery. If anyone objects to the filing or if the judge has further questions, the judicial assistant will schedule a hearing and notify you and the others. Code of Judicial Administration Rule 6-501.

Changing the due date for the annual reports

You may ask the court to change the reporting period, such as to a calendar year or any other 12-month period that is more convenient. This means that for the year in which the change is made you will report for a shorter period of time. For example, if you are appointed on August 17, and receive the court's permission to report on a calendar year basis, your next report would cover the period from August 17 to the end of the calendar year. Subsequent reports would cover the calendar year.

To request a change in the reporting period, you may use the Motion to Change Reporting Period in the Forms section below.

Change of address, death or incapacity of the conservator

If you move, be sure to tell the court. There are no forms to report a change in residence; a letter or email will do. Address it to the clerk of the court that appointed you. Be sure to identify the case number and the minor's name.

If the conservator dies or becomes incapacitated, someone interested in the minor must notify the court, so the court can appoint another.


Authority and responsibilities of a conservator


Notice of appointment

As soon as possible after your appointment you should notify the people and entities that you will be working with and interested persons, such as:

  • the minor's parents and other family members who were involved in the case;
  • the minor's employer;
  • the minor's healthcare providers and caregivers;
  • the minor's education providers;
  • banks, savings and loans, credit unions, and other financial institutions where the minor has savings or checking accounts or credit or debit cards;
  • insurance agents;
  • government agencies, such as Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration and Workers Compensation Fund, from which the minor receives payments;
  • people who owe the minor money, such as child support;
  • the county recorder in every county in which the minor owns land;
  • the post office, if you want to change the minor's mail address; and
  • anyone involved in a lawsuit by or against the minor.

To notify someone of your appointment, you should:

  • inform the person or entity that you have been appointed;
  • give to each a copy of your letter of conservatorship and an address, email address and telephone number at which you can be reached;
  • ask the person or entity whether they recognize your authority or need something else.

Conservator's authority and responsibilities

The authority and responsibilities of a conservator are regulated by statute and are sometimes highly technical. A full description is beyond the scope of this page. Unless the court has limited your authority, you have the following authority and responsibilities provided by statute.

And, because Section 75-5-417 imposes on the conservator the standards of a trustee, you should also consider the requirements of:

If you are a parent who has been appointed as conservator for your minor child, you continue to have the responsibility to support your child with your own money even though your child has money of his or her own.

The conservator of a minor has the same responsibilities as the conservator of an adult, such as budgeting, money management and protecting the minor's property. But a minor's circumstances seldom include a substantial estate. If the minor for whom you are the conservator does have a substantial estate, please review the pages found at Serving as a Guardian or Conservator of an Adult.

Restricted accounts

A conservator is required to invest and manage the minor's money as a prudent investor would, but if the minor does not have enough money to risk in investments, it may be prudent to deposit the money in a restricted account. Sometimes the judge orders the conservator to deposit the money in a restricted account. A restricted account is an account that requires court approval for withdrawals. If all of the minor's money is deposited in one or more restricted accounts, the conservator does not have to file annual financial accountings with the court. The bank, savings and loan, or credit union will help you set up or modify an account.

For more information and forms, see our page on Restricted Accounts.


Proceedings after the appointment of a conservator

Proceedings after the appointment of a conservator might be brought by the conservator, by an interested person or by the minor.

Motion to change the conservator's bond requirements

Utah law requires a conservator to post a bond, unless the judge waives the requirement, which s/he often does. Utah Code Section 75-5-411 and Section 75-5-412. For more information, see our page on Guardian's and Conservator's Bond.

If the judge has waived the bond or has required a bond in an amount that you think is too high or too low you can ask the judge to increase or decrease the amount. There are no approved forms for this particular motion, but for information and general motion forms, see our page on Motions.

Motion for instructions from the court

Most of the conservator's decisions do not have to be approved by the judge, but there are some that do. Or the conservator might want the extra protection of having a particularly controversial decision approved by an independent authority.

You should ask the judge for instructions only if the matter is important and the minor will not be harmed by the delay. There are no approved forms for this particular motion, but for information and general motion forms, see our page on Motions.


Moving a conservatorship


Transferring a conservatorship from one county to another within Utah

Transferring the conservatorship to another county within Utah is called a "change of venue," and you need the judge's permission. If it would be more convenient to report to a district court in a county other than the one that appointed you, you can file a motion to change venue. Utah Code Section 75-5-403. You can use the Motion to Change Venue is in the Forms section, below.

Transferring a conservatorship into or out of Utah.

Unlike conservatorship of an adult, there is no process for transferring the conservatorship of a minor into or out of Utah. Instead, you must terminate the Utah conservatorship and file a petition to appoint a conservator in the other state. Or terminate the conservatorship in the other state and file a petition to appoint a Utah conservator.

For information and forms about appointing a Utah conservator see the section of this page Procedure for appointing a conservator.

For information and forms to terminate the Utah conservatorship, see the section of this page Ending a conservatorship. As part of ending a conservatorship, the conservator must file a final accounting with the court. For more information and forms, see the section of this page Reports required from the conservator.


Resignation or removal of conservator

Unless a conservatorship ends because of the minor's death, you keep your obligations until the court ends the appointment. Utah Code Section 75-5-415.

Resignation

You may resign, and the judge will appoint another conservator if the minor still needs one. If you decide you are no longer able to handle the responsibility of being a conservator you should file a motion with the court to accept your resignation. There are no approved forms for this particular motion, but for information and general motion forms, see our page on Motions.

Motion to remove or sanction the conservator

The minor or anyone interested in the minor's welfare may file a motion asking the judge to remove or sanction the conservator. The judge may order the removal and appoint a successor if it is in the minor's best interests to do so. Utah Code Section 75-5-415. The judge will follow the same procedures to safeguard the minor's rights as provided in Utah Code Section 75-5-407.

If the conservator has mismanaged the minor's property, the judge can impose a penalty against the conservator. The penalty might be an order to pay money to the minor or perform some other service.

There are no approved forms for this particular motion, but for information and general motion forms, see our page on Motions.

Final accounting

If a conservator resigns or is removed, the conservator must file a final accounting with the court. For more information and forms, see the section of this page Reports required from the conservator.


Ending a conservatorship


Death of the minor

If the minor dies, notify the court and interested persons immediately and file a copy of the death certificate with the court. You must also:

  • deliver the minor's will, if there is one, to the court and inform the executor or a beneficiary named in the will that you have done so;
  • continue to pay the minor's obligations and protect the estate from harm; and
  • deliver the balance of the estate to the minor's personal representative or to others who are entitled to it.

The conservator may ask the judge to allow him or her to administer and distribute the estate without being appointed as the minor's personal representative, but only if at least 40 days has passed from the minor's death and no other person has applied to be appointed personal representative. Utah Code Section 75-5-425. If the judge appoints a personal representative other than the conservator, the personal representative will take over management of the estate.

Request to terminate a conservatorship

The minor, the minor's personal representative or conservator, or any other interested person may file a motion to terminate a conservatorship. The judge will follow the same procedures to safeguard the minor's rights as provided in Utah Code Section 75-5-407. You can use the Motion to Terminate the Conservatorship in the Forms section, below.

Final accounting

If the judge terminates the conservatorship, the conservator must file a final accounting with the court. For more information and forms, see the section of this page Reports required from the conservator.


Summary


Forms

Some forms may not apply in all cases. Use the Checklist to help you understand and complete the forms. The Checklist is not filed with the court or served on the other parties.

Forms to appoint a conservator

Forms to request notice

Forms to object to the petition

Inventory report

The Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) will prepare the necessary forms for an inventory or an accounting based on answers to questions. The Word and PDF forms on this page can be downloaded, printed and completed by hand.)

Financial accounting

The Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) will prepare the necessary forms for an inventory or an accounting based on answers to questions. The Word and PDF forms on this page can be downloaded, printed and completed by hand.)

Motion to change reporting period

Motion to change venue

Motion to terminate the conservatorship

The Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) will prepare the necessary forms for an inventory or an accounting based on answers to questions. The Word and PDF forms on this page can be downloaded, printed and completed by hand.)



Page Last Modified: 1/8/2014
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