Procedure for Appointing a Conservator for an Adult
|The information and forms on this page are for the appointment of a private individual as conservator for an adult. The information and forms do not satisfy the requirements for appointing a business trust as conservator or appointing a conservator for a minor. See our page on Conservatorship of a Minor.|
Reasons for appointing a conservator
A conservator may be appointed only if the respondent is unable to manage her or his property and affairs effectively because of:
- mental illness;
- mental deficiency;
- physical illness;
- physical disability;
- advanced age;
- chronic use of drugs;
- chronic intoxication;
- detention by a foreign power;
- disappearance; or
- some other cause.
- the respondent's property must be at risk of being harmed unless proper management is provided, or
- funds are needed for the support, care, and welfare of the respondent or those entitled to be supported by the respondent and protection is necessary or desirable to obtain or provide funds.
The petitioner must be able to prove these things by a preponderance of the evidence.
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 respondent'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 respondent resides or, if the respondent does not reside in Utah, in the county in which the respondent 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 Section 75-5-405, Section 75-5-406 and Section 75-1-401.
The petitioner must serve the notice of the hearing on the respondent and the respondent's spouse. If the respondent is not married, the petitioner must serve the notice of the hearing on the respondent and the respondent's parents. The respondent, and respondent's spouse and 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.
The petitioner must also serve the notice of the hearing on any interested person who has requested service under Section 75-5-406. The documents can be served by first class mail or other method permitted by URCP 5.
The petitioner must also serve the notice of the hearing on any interested person 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.
If the person to be served cannot be found, they can be served by alternative means. For more information and forms, see our Alternative Service page.
Objecting to the petition
Any person served with notice of a conservatorship petition may object. This can be done by filing a written objection before the hearing, or raising the objection at the hearing orally. An oral objection must be followed up with a written objection within 7 days. An objection form is available in the Forms section below.
If an oral objection is made but there is no written objection within 7 days the petitioner can ask the court to proceed with the original petition by filing a Request to Submit for Decision.
If a party files an objection in a guardianship, conservatorship or other probate case, the parties must attend mediation to try to resolve the issues before the case can move forward. Code of Judicial Administration Rule 6-506. See the Alternative Dispute Resolution in Probate Cases web page for more information.
If an objection is filed in a guardianship, conservatorship or other probate case, the parties must share certain information with each other. See the Initial Disclosures web page for more information about the requirements.
Lawyer for the respondent
The respondent has the right to be represented by a lawyer of his or her choice. If the respondent is not represented, the court is permitted but not required to appoint a lawyer. The petitioner, respondent or any interested person may request that the court appoint a lawyer.
Examination of the respondent
If the basis for the appointment is claimed to be mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of drugs, or chronic intoxication, the court may direct that the respondent be examined by a physician. The petitioner, respondent or any interested person may request that the respondent be examined.
The court may also assign a court visitor. A visitor is a special appointee of the court with no personal interest in the proceedings. The petitioner, respondent or any interested person may request that a visitor be assigned. The court may assign a visitor on its own initiative.
For more information about court visitors and volunteering to serve as a court visitor, see our page on Court Visitor Program.
If someone objects, the court might require the parties to mediate their dispute before proceeding to trial. For more information, see our page on Alternative Dispute Resolution In Probate.
The court 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 petition and hearing has been given;
- whether there is a need to appoint a court visitor;
- whether there is a need to appoint a lawyer to represent the respondent;
- 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 will 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.
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 Certificate of Completion with the court. The law does not require a test for a professional guardian or a parent appointed as guardian of their adult 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 Guardianship and Conservatorship Pre-appointment Tests.
Order and letter of conservatorship
If the court is satisfied that there is a basis for making the appointment, the court will enter an order appointing a conservator and issue a letter of conservatorship that will conform to the order.
The letter shows the conservator's authority to make decisions about the protected person's property. The conservator will need to provide a copy of the letter to third parties, for example, the protected person's bank. The conservator should have the court certify at least one copy of the letter. Additional certified copies are available upon request and payment of the required fee.
Serving as a Conservator
See information for conservators on the Guardianship and Conservatorship Home Page.
Court-appointed conservators must file an initial inventory within 90 days after being appointed. Each year the conservator must file financial accountings unless the court changes the reporting period and/or the frequency of the reports. If you are the parent of the protected person or appointed as a co-guardian with a parent of the protected person, you do not have to file the reports. See our page on Reports Required from the Guardian and Conservator.
Some forms may not apply in all cases.
Forms to appoint a conservator
- Checklist - PDF | Word
- Schedule A - people who must be served with the petition and notice of hearing - PDF | Word
- Proof of Service
- Witness Affidavit - PDF | Word
- Forms for Guardianship and Conservatorship Pre-appointment Test
Forms to request notice
Forms to appoint an attorney to represent the respondent
Forms to assign a court visitor
Forms to appoint an examiner
Forms to object to the petition
Going to trial