Budgeting for the Protected Person
If the protected person has a separate guardian and conservator, the conservator is responsible for managing the protected person's income and assets to meet the protected person's needs over his or her expected life. If there is no conservator, the guardian has this responsibility, unless the court order does not give the guardian authority to make decisions about the protected person's estate. Preparing a budget will help you accomplish this goal.
Part of your responsibility is to identify organizations that provide needed services at no or reduced cost and organizations that provide benefits to pay for services. Utah Code Section 75-5-425. You should research whether the protected person is eligible for Medicaid and other government benefits. Even if the protected person is able to pay full cost for a service, you should use the benefit for which s/he qualifies. For example, if the protected person is a veteran, s/he may qualify for reduced cost healthcare at a VA hospital or clinic. If the protected person must reside in a nursing home, s/he may qualify for Medicaid benefits. Use the benefits that the protected person qualifies for, and save his or her money for needs that cannot be met by other means.
Accustomed standard of living
In deciding what the protected person can afford, remember that the protected person's assets are for his or her benefit. No one but the protected person has a right to the protected person's money and property during his or her lifetime.
Manage the protected person's estate:
- to give as good a quality of life as s/he is accustomed to and can afford and
- giving strong consideration to the protected person’s preference as to where they will live and their standard of living
You must manage the estate this way even if this will reduce the estate that others might inherit when the protected person dies.
There are several websites, programs and applications to help you build a budget. Or a pencil and a piece of paper also works well. The important point is that, once you have built a budget, you live within it.
Making a budget means identifying what the protected person needs and balancing this with what s/he can afford. To make a budget for the protected person you should identify:
- his or her needs (current and anticipated future needs);
- when those needs will arise;
- how much it will cost to meet those needs; and
- the protected person's benefits and income and what s/he can reasonably afford.
In our page on Record Keeping for Guardians and Conservators you are advised to keep a journal of all financial transactions. That is a good place to list all of the things you buy and all of the bills you pay for the protected person. Arrange the expenses into categories like housing, food, medicine, etc. Calculate the total monthly expenses.
Similarly, list the source and the amount of payments to the protected person, like Social Security, pension, annuity. Calculate the total monthly income.
Compare the protected person's total monthly income with his or her total monthly expenses. If the expenses are consistently more than the income, you will have to look for ways to cut back. If income is consistently more than expenses, you should save as much as you can for emergencies and other expenses that you didn't anticipate. A good way to encourage monthly savings is to include the amount as a monthly expense.
If the protected person receives a one-time payment for some reason, save the money if possible or spend it for the protected person's benefit if needed, but you should not include the amount as income in any month other than the one in which it is received, because it is a payment that the protected person will never receive again. Similarly, if you know that the protected person is going to have a one-time expense, make sure there is money to pay for it when it is due, but don't include it in future monthly expenses.
This is not a required form. It is a sample of what a budget worksheet might look like, comparing actual and estimated income and expenses.
- Budget Worksheet - Excel