- 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?
- For more information on resources for help with petitioning for guardianship, please review a few helpful links.
- Are there any alternative options to petitioning for guardianship?
- Yes, Arizona Law recognizes several alternatives to petitioning.
- 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 3 to 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 Social Security Administration 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 loved 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?
- A few steps must be followed, which we have outlined in a helpful guide.
- 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 to:
Private Fiduciary Program, Arizona Supreme CourtAll 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.
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Phoenix, AZ 85007-3231