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Who is the Court likely to appoint as guardian?
The court will look to the family first to determine if there is anyone qualified to serve as guardian. A family member is often the best choice to serve, because the family will be most familiar with their loved ones unique preferences and will have some knowledge of their individual history to aid advocacy.
Where can I go to get help petitioning for guardianship?
Maricopa County Self Help Center
Az Supreme Court Senior Help
Are there any alternative options to petitioning for guardianship?
Yes, Arizona Law recognizes the following alternatives:
Surrogate decision makers
for loved ones unable to make medical decisions; and,
Power of Attorneys for Medical, or Mental Health, or Financial; and,
Technological assistance to maximize a person's independence and prevent guardianship; and,
Least restrictive and least intrusive options to ensure the individual's rights are left intact when possible; and,
Community supportive services that provide some level of oversight and coordination of services (Meals on Wheels; case management; day treatment and adult day healthcare; bus card/phone/prepaid debit card; clinics and subsidized individual and group housing that reduce)
Is setting up a guardianship expensive?
Yes, that is why it is ideal to explore all guardianship alternatives prior to initiating a guardianship action. Court filing fees apply to every case, unless a deferral or waiver application is granted by the court. An attorney retainer is common and if the appointment is successful, the legal expenses may be paid out of the funds belonging to the person needing protection. Some families file the legal documents with the help of the forms available at the self-help service center. An initial attorney consultation is highly valuable in determining whether all alternatives to guardianship have been explored and to determine whether family will want to proceed with or without legal representation.
How long does it take to get a guardianship in place when there are no other reasonable alternatives to guardianship?
New guardianship cases filed in Maricopa County can be set three (3) to six (6) weeks out for the initial hearing if the petitioner accurately and completely puts together the original legal filing, subsequent legal reports, and training affidavits. The processing time is also impacted by whether the legal evidence to remove the persons rights are clearly established in the original petition and in the court appointed physician report and investigator report. Some cases require multiple continued hearings to afford the court all of the information necessary to make an informed decision prior to adjudicating someone in need of a guardian.
What are the post appointment responsibilities of the court appointed guardian?
The guardian is required to comply with the "Order to Guardian" setting forth the legal expectations of their new role as the guardian of the Ward.
The guardian is required to accurately complete and file an annual "Report of Guardian" with a current attached "Physician's Report" before the anniversary due date of the appointment. Failure to do so may result in additional legal costs, fines, fees or removal of the guardian. In some cases the court may want the annual SSA representative payee account report or other transaction record demonstrating how the expenses were made by the guardian from the income of the Ward.
Is the Guardian responsible for the Ward's debts and expenses?
No. The Ward's debts and expenses are paid from their income and resources. The debtor cannot collect from the legal agent's personal funds.
If the debts are greater than the income, the guardian will first ensure the Ward's funds are used to ensure the Ward is safe, has housing, food, clothing and medical aid. Next, if there are some funds remaining, the guardian can set up a payment plan. If there are no funds after the Ward's basic expenses for care and services are paid, the guardian needs to notify the creditor that their claim is deferred until a later time as the Ward is currently insolvent.
What will happen when I can no longer take care of my disabled love one?
Arizona allows a guardian to be appointed by a last will and testament for any minor child or spouse. This "testamentary appointment" uses a more simplified path than the traditional court appointed guardian process and ensures continued care for the child or spouse.
What do I do if the Ward has significantly improved?
The guardian would want to file a "Report of Guardian" including a statement as to any noted changes and file it with a current physician's report stating the person is no longer in need of a guardian; or, stating that a reduction in guardianship authority is needed naming the specific authority still required. The court may set a status hearing or direct the guardian to file a petition to terminate the guardianship.
What if I am the guardian and want to quit?
First determine if the guardianship services are still necessary or if the appointment may be terminated and guardianship appointment discharged.
If it is clearly demonstrated that the guardianship services are still necessary, discuss your concerns with other family members and see if another family member can provide some relief.
If there is no family able or willing to serve, contact a private fiduciary from the
Arizona list of licensed fiduciaries
and see if they are willing to become Successor Guardian.
Last contact the Public Fiduciary and make a referral for successor guardianship. Note the investigator's name, email and phone number who will be assigned and begin open discussion about the Ward's needs, preferences and history.
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