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Access to Services
Access to Services
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Who does the Office of the Public Fiduciary provide services for?
The Office of the Public Fiduciary was established by the 1974 legislature to serve as a "fiduciary of last resort" for individuals and decedents' estates in need of guardianship, conservatorship or final Who does the Office of the Public Fiduciary provide services for? The Office of the Public Fiduciary was established by the 1974 legislature to serve as a "fiduciary of last resort" for individuals and decedents' estates in need of guardianship, conservatorship or final decedent administration where there are no funds and there are no family members, other interested parties, or private sector professional fiduciaries qualified and willing to serve in the role as guardian, conservator, or personal representative.
What steps should be taken before considering a referral to the Office of the Public Fiduciary?
All other possibilities for solution of the client's problems should be exhausted. This includes referral to other agencies for appropriate services.
Counseling with the client personally to mobilize resources or to help the client accept the services that are available. Often this step is sufficient; a client may accept difficult changes in his or her life if someone takes the time and effort to show that they care.
If the client appears genuinely unable to manage his/her affairs, encourage the family or close friends to accept responsibility for the client and become guardian and/or conservator if warranted.
What is expected of a person or agency after making the initial referral?
The referring person or agency must completely fill out the referral form and obtain a properly written report signed by a physician, certifying that guardianship or conservatorship is necessary. This information is required for assessment of the case and for appropriate follow-up should the Public Fiduciary be appointed. The Public Fiduciary will petition for appointment of a guardian or conservator only in those cases where there is a demonstrated need as defined by Arizona Statutes. Because one may meet the criteria for a guardianship or conservatorship does not necessarily mean that there is a demonstrated need for the creation of a guardianship or conservatorship or that a guardianship and/or conservatorship is the least restrictive measure that might be taken to meet the individual’s demonstrated needs and protect the person’s assets.
Is there a cost for service from the Office of the Public Fiduciary?
Yes, the Public Fiduciary has a claim against the estate of the ward, protected person, or decedent for reasonable expenses and fees incurred in the administration of the guardianship, conservatorship or decedent estate. The Public Fiduciary fee schedule approved in 2008 is a Tab at the top of our website.
How is a referral made to the Office of the Public Fiduciary?
The Public Fiduciary website has a Tab, “Guardianship Services” that will help any member of the community make a referral for services to determine if the person proposed for guardianship and/or conservatorship meets the criteria.
Is a durable power of attorney for medical decisions the same as a guardian?
No however the authority granted to an agent under a durable power of attorney may prevent or delay the need for a guardian and/or conservator.
Can a relative or friend serve as guardian/conservator instead of the public fiduciary?
Yes, it preferred that the family and/or friends to serve in this capacity as this person would be in the best position to know what their loved one would want when making decisions.
The Public Fiduciary is appointed only when there are no other alternatives to guardianship and there is no one else willing and able to serve. There are also private fiduciaries that perform these services. Family and/or friends can obtain more information on how to apply as guardian/conservator by contacting the
Clerk of Superior Court, Self-Service Center
Can the Office of the Public Fiduciary be appointed if there are other family members?
The Office of the Public Fiduciary should be considered only as a last resort. When a person becomes physically or mentally incapacitated and needs a guardian or conservator, the responsibility of guardianship or conservatorship is most appropriately addressed by the family.
Does the referral of a client to the Office of the Public Fiduciary mean that the client now becomes the Office of the Public Fiduciary's responsibility?
No, the first task of the Office of the Public Fiduciary is to investigate whether a guardianship or conservatorship is necessary and whether legal standards for appointment can be met in Court. The Office of the Public Fiduciary is responsible only after appointment by a Court of competent jurisdiction.
Are Fiduciaries licensed?
Effective April 1, 1999, professional fiduciaries are not permitted to serve as a Fiduciary in the state of Arizona unless they are licensed by the Supreme Court. Licensure requirements include posting a bond, furnishing a full set of fingerprints and passing a criminal background check, taking 12 hours of initial training and passing an examination. Professional fiduciaries are required to maintain continuing education requirements. A list of professional fiduciaries that are currently registered with the Arizona Supreme Court may be obtained by writing: Private Fiduciary Program, Arizona Supreme Court, 1501 West Washington, Suite 410, Phoenix, AZ 85007-3231. All guardian and estate administrators in the Office of the Maricopa County Public Fiduciary are licensed or in training for licensure. Family members are not required to be registered with the Supreme Court in order to serve as a fiduciary for a family member.
How do I find out more about guardianships/conservatorships?
Guardianships/Conservatorships are legal creations. You may want to consult an attorney familiar with guardianships/conservatorships. Attorneys who practice in the probate area are particularly able to assist. To find an attorney suitable for consultation, contact Lawyer Referral Services at the Maricopa County Bar Association, http://maricopalawyers.org - (602) 257 4434.
How do I find out more about Burial Assistance for Persons who do not have the funds to bury or cremate their loved one?
The County Indigent Decedent (CID) Program is a creature of statute to provide burial assistance. It is designed to provide burial or cremation services for those individuals and their families who are truly indigent. Please go to the “Burial Assistance” Tab at the top of the webpage for information on qualifying.
Phone: 602.506.5801 (24/7)
Hours of Operation
8 AM to 5 PM
Monday through Friday
Adult Protective Services
or area law enforcement (911) if the person appears to be at risk, or suffering from loss or harm.
Maricopa County Public Fiduciary
Security Center Building
222 N. Central Avenue, Suite 4100 | Phoenix, AZ 85004