Planning for Family Emergencies, Including COVID-19 and Deportation
This page has information for people worried about family emergencies, including deportation or other events that may cause them suddenly to be unable to care for their family members, businesses, and property.
Making plans for the future can be helpful. If something were to happen to you, who would care for your family members? What would happen to your business or property? This page provides legal tools that can help address these questions so your family members are cared for and your property and business interests are managed according to your wishes.
In times of crisis, people are vulnerable to fraudulent offers of help from people not licensed to provide legal or other professional services. Here are some tips to avoid being taken advantage of:
- Ask the person offering to help you if they are licensed to practice law in Utah. You can verify their license by searching their name on the Utah State Bar's website.
- In the U.S., "notarios" are not lawyers and cannot practice law. In Utah, a notary public can only check the ID of a person signing a document, take their oath that they are that person, and watch them sign a document. They can only charge $5 per document. They cannot charge to create court documents or charge to fill out court forms and cannot give legal advice.
- See the Finding Legal Help web page for information free and low cost ways to get legal help from a licensed legal professional.
If you have a minor child, or if you are the guardian of a minor child or of an adult, you can sign a power of attorney, which temporarily gives another person the authority to care for and make decisions for the child or the adult under your guardianship (the "protected person").
The person with the power of attorney can, for example, pick up the child from school or take them to the doctor. This power of attorney lasts for only six months. A new one can be created before the six months expires. See the Temporary Delegation of Parental Authority web page for more information and forms.
A temporary power of attorney may not be the best choice for your situation. Consider talking to an attorney about other options, including guardianship. See the Finding Legal Help web page for information free and low cost ways to get legal help.
You can nominate someone to care for your minor child or adult child, or for your spouse, or for another adult you are caring for. This does not create a guardianship or give anyone authority immediately when you sign it. Instead, it states who you would like to care for the person if you are unable to do so. If a court case for guardianship is later filed, the court typically will appoint the person you nominate unless there are good reasons not to.
See the Nominating a Guardian and Conservator web page for more information and forms.
A school, doctor, or other third party may require a court's guardianship order before they will provide services for a minor child. A minor guardianship is a court order appointing someone other than the parent as the person with legal authority to care for and make decisions about the child.
- A guardianship can be created only through a court order signed by a judge. Parents cannot create a guardianship themselves by signing papers "giving" guardianship to a person.
- A guardianship does not terminate the parental rights of the parents.
- A guardianship case can be filed in Utah if the child is in Utah, and the parents can sign and send in their consent forms even if they are in another country.
- Some local school boards can issue a school-based guardianship. Utah Code section 53G-6-303. Contact your local school district for more information.
When a guardianship is based on the parents' consent, the parents can file a motion at any time to terminate the guardianship. Under Utah law the court is required to terminate the guardianship unless there has been a final factual determination depriving the parent of custody or termination of parental rights by a court with proper jurisdiction. In Re: V.K.S., 63 P.3d 1284, 2003 UT App 13 (2003).
See the Guardianship of a Minor web page for more information and forms.
If you are taking care of an incapacitated adult child, adult relative, or other adult you can ask the court to order another person to be their guardian. If you are already that incapacitated person's guardian, you can ask that a person be added as co-guardian.
See the Procedure for Appointing a Guardian for an Adult web page for more information and forms.
You can use a Power of Attorney to give someone the authority to pay your bills, run your business, and otherwise take care of your property if you are unable to. See the Power of Attorney web page for more information and forms.
Be careful. A power of attorney goes into effect when you sign it unless the document says that the power of attorney becomes effective at a future time. This type of power of attorney can be complicated. Talk to an attorney to help you prepare it. See the Finding Legal Help web page for information free and low cost ways to get legal help.
You can document your wishes about your medical care if you become injured or sick using an advance health care directive. This document tells others who you want to make decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. You can find information about advance health care directives and forms on the Utah Commission on Aging website.
If you want to make arrangements about who will receive your belongings when you die, you can write a will. Utah Legal Services has a webpage that explains how to write a will.
For legal advice and help with immigration and family law questions, please see our Free Legal Clinics web page, which includes Free Legal Clinics and Agencies.