Authority and Responsibilities of a Conservator
The order appointing you and your "letter" of appointment will describe the extent of your authority, limited or full. The judge will sign a "letter" or "letters." This is a court order that you provide to banks, etc. to show that you are the court-ordered conservator of the protected person.
Unless limited by the order appointing you, you have the authority conferred by law on conservators plus the same authority as the protected person who owns the property, except the power to make or change a will. Utah CodeSection 75-5-408. The court may also limit your authority. Utah CodeSection 75-5-426.
- You must file with the court an inventory listing the protected person's property within 90 days after being appointed.
- You must file with the court an accounting of the protected person's estate every year unless the court changes the reporting period and/or the frequency of the report.
- You must file with the court a final accounting when the conservatorship ends, such as if the protected person dies or regains capacity of if the conservatorship is moved to another state.
- The reports are required. Failure to file a report or making a substantial misstatement in a report could result in a $5,000 fine.
- For more information and forms, see our page onReports Required from the Guardian and Conservator.
Your letter of conservatorship is proof of your authority to make decisions and act on the protected person's behalf, and you will present this to others — such as healthcare providers, insurance agents, residence administrators, 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 onFees.
The original order and letter of conservatorship will remain in the court file, and you may access the file any time the court is open.
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 protected person's spouse, children, parents and other family members who were involved in the case;
- the protected person's employer;
- the administrator or manager of the protected person's residential facility;
- the protected person's healthcare providers and caregivers;
- the protected person's education and training providers;
- banks, savings and loans, credit unions, and other financial institutions where the protected person has savings or checking accounts or credit or debit cards;
- stockbrokers and financial advisers;
- companies in which the protected person owns stock;
- insurance agents;
- government agencies, such as Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration and Workers Compensation Fund, from which the protected person receives payments;
- pension plan administrators;
- people who owe the protected person money or to whom the protected person owes money;
- the county recorder in every county in which the protected person owns land;
- the post office, if you want to change the protected person's mail address; and
- anyone involved in a lawsuit by or against the protected person.
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.
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.
- General duty of conservator.Section 75-5-417.
- Powers of conservator in administration.Section 75-5-424.
- Permissible court orders.Section 75-5-408.
- Distributive duties and powers of conservator.Section 75-5-425.
And, becauseSection 75-5-417 imposes on the conservator the standards of a trustee, you should also consider the requirements of:
- General powers of trustee.Section 75-7-813.
- Specific powers of trustee.Section 75-7-814.
- Standard of care -- Portfolio strategy -- Risk and return objectives.Section 75-7-902.
For more information about some of the conservator's specific decisions, see our pages on:
- Budgeting for the Protected Person
- Decision Making Standards
- Ending a Guardianship or Conservatorship
- Identifying the Protected Person's Property
- Keeping the Protected Person's Property Safe
- Managing the Protected Person's Property
- Moving a Guardianship or Conservatorship
- Planning for the Protected Person's Needs
- Respecting the Protected Person's Rights
You cannot give to someone else the authority that the court gives to you, but you may consult whomever you wish. Consulting with family members and getting professional advice is usually helpful, but the decision, after considering any advice that is given, must be yours.
Unlike a guardian, the law does not permit you, as a conservator, to prepare a power of attorney for someone to make the decisions on your behalf, even if you are temporarily absent. However, you can appoint an agent to act on your behalf.Section 75-5-424. You are responsible for all that your agent does, so make sure that you give your agent clear instructions to carry out your decisions rather than allow the agent to act on his or her own.
If you no longer want to serve as conservator or are no longer able to serve, you should ask to resign and have a replacement appointed. For more information and forms, see our page onResignation or Removal of a Guardian or Conservator and our page on Motion to Review, Terminate, or Remove Guardian or Conservator.