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Guardianship, Estate Planning and Special Needs Trust

At age 18, a person is considered an adult with all rights, responsibilities, and consequences. If there are concerns that an individual is unable to make responsible decisions about finances, healthcare, housing, etc. then a parent or interested party may want to become that person's guardian. Guardianship is a legal process that requires a court order. The process does not happen automatically.

The court may appoint different types of guardianship. This includes guardianship, limited guardianship and conservatorship. In Utah, a lawyer must represent the person with a disability.

For further information regarding Guardianship in Utah, see the following links:

Other areas of consideration for an individual who is unable to make their own decisions or manage their own affairs include:


A trust is a legal way one person's property is managed by another. There are special needs trusts that can be set up to supplement government benefits. Trusts can protect the assets of people with disabilities and allow the person continued eligibility for government programs. An attorney or legal service should be contacted for establishing a trust.

Representative Payee

Representative Payee is a Social Security Administration program, where SSA determines if a beneficiary needs help to manage SS benefits. A relative or other interested person manages the benefits from SSA.

Estate Planning

Estate planning for a person with a disability involves careful legal and financial planning. However set up, it may coordinate with public services or government benefits. The estate should be set up to ensure the person with a disability still receives these benefits or provides enough money to pay for the services privately. An attorney or legal service should be contacted to complete estate planning.

For more information contact the DLC (Disability Law Center) at 1-800-662-9880 (voice) or 1-800-550-4182 (TTY).