Is a conservatorship formed in Arizona valid in Utah?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Dee asked...

My father was living in Arizona and I in Salt Lake City, when he became ill last year. I spent five months there with him while he was in a catatonic depression. I was granted guardian/conservator there, and have since moved my father here to Salt Lake City. There is some confusion as to whether or not the guardianship/conservatorship is valid here in Utah. Some have told me I have to start all over here in Utah. Is this true? This has become very expensive!

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Many people complain that getting a conservatorship is complicated and expensive -- and now you can add your name to the list of Justified Complainers. The rationale offered, should you decide to accept it, is that the state and court authorities want to be completely sure that the arrangement is a fitting one, since a conservator has power to take over so many of another person's rights and responsibilities.

Here's what the Utah law, which would surely have your fourth grade English teacher clucking his or her tongue, has to say about the matter: "If the court located where the ward resides is not the court in which acceptance of appointment is filed, the court in which proceedings subsequent to appointment are commenced shall in all appropriate cases notify the other court, in this or another state, and after consultation with that court determine whether to retain jurisdiction or transfer the proceedings to the other court, whichever may be in the best interest of the ward."

That's the really long and confusing way of saying that you should simply be able to transfer the conservatorship by filing a petition and possibly answering a few questions that the Utah court might pose.

Fortunately, there are two excellent resources for free help in Utah. The website for Utah Courts has a very comprehensive self-help section explaining guardianships and conservatorships and how they operate -- and also includes forms needed to secure or transfer a conservatorship. You can also get help and advice at Utah's Disability Law Center.

Consult them both before you spend another dime.