Relationship Between a Guardian and a Conservator and other Decision Makers
If the court has appointed a separate guardian and conservator, each should understand the other's authority and responsibilities in relation to their own. It is important that each communicate with the other, and that they work together to meet the protected person's needs. The two should discuss their respective responsibilities soon after being appointed so that both understand them clearly. Have as much of that discussion as possible with the protected person.
Neither the guardian’s decisions nor the conservator’s should be made without consulting the other, and, if possible, the protected person. For example, the guardian may decide where the protected person will live, after considering the protected person’s preferences for living arrangements and standard of living, but should do so only after considering, among other things, what the protected person can afford. The conservator may decide how to invest the protected person’s money, but should do so only after considering, among other things, the protected person’s current expenses. Utah Code 75-5-312(2)(a) and 75-5-425.
The guardian has the right to receive from the conservator reasonable sums for the protected person's living expenses. Utah Code Section 75-5-312. This might be in the form of an allowance to the guardian to pay third persons, or the conservator might pay third persons directly. The guardian and the conservator should discuss and agree upon the amount, method and timing of payments for regular and extraordinary expenses.
The guardian must report to the conservator the financial transactions made on the protected person's behalf. Because the conservator must report annually to the court, the guardian should report at least annually to the conservator. The guardian and the conservator should discuss and agree on the timing and content of the report.
If the guardian is not the same person as the health care agent designated in an advance health care directive, then the order appointing the guardian should specify whether the guardian or the agent has the authority to make health care decisions for the protected person. If the order is silent or specifies the agent, then the agent makes any health care decisions that the protected person has given to the agent. And the agent has the right to access the protected person's health information under HIPAA. If there is no health care agent or the order specifies the guardian, then health care decisions are the guardian's responsibility, and the guardian has the right to access the protected person's health information. Utah Code Section 75-2a-112 an Section 75-2a-113.
The guardian and conservator should consult with and cooperate with the health care agent because many health care decisions can affect decisions about residence and other care and vice-versa. And what the protected person can afford will affect health care decisions.
A representative payee is a person appointed by a government agency, such as the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs or Railroad Retirement Board, to receive and manage the money paid by that agency. A guardian or conservator is not automatically a representative payee; they must apply with the agency for appointment as representative payee.
The guardian and conservator should consult with and cooperate with the representative payee because the representative payee will be responsible for a part — perhaps the major part — of the protected person's income that will have to be budgeted and used to pay for residence, health care and other expenses.
If the protected person created a trust, the trustee remains responsible for managing the property in the trust. The guardian and conservator should consult with and cooperate with the trustee because payments for care might be made from the assets in the trust.