The family law firm of West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman in Arizona is experienced in both Guardianship and Conservatorship. Our attorney's understand at times it is important to protect an individual's personal and financial well being if they are not able to protect themselves. We have assisted many families in securing guardianship or conservatorship for their family members. We can help you through the necessary court procedures to get you appointed as guardian and/or conservator of your loved one. To determine whether a guardianship or conservatorship is appropriate in your situation, contact one of our experienced law attorneys. In addition to matters involving guardianships and conservatorships, our Tucson attorneys can provide legal assistance with estate planning and family law.
What is Guardianship?
A guardianship is a legal proceeding in which someone is legally appointed to supervise and provide physical care for a person who is incapable of acting for himself or herself because of age, incapacity or disability. The legal guardian is responsible providing or arranging for physical care including shelter, education and medical care. The purpose of a guardianship is to ensure continuing care is provided for persons who are incapable of providing their own care. Under Arizona law a guardian can be appointed for a minor (someone under 18 years of age) or an adult who is incapable of providing for their own physical needs. Guardianship is the available alternative when there is no current power of attorney in place that specifically authorizes another to handle the physical care needs of the person.
A guardian is appointed for an adult when the court determines the adult is in need of protection as a result of advanced age, dementia, physical or mental impairment. A general statement of the procedure for appointment of a guardian is set forth below.
A minor (a person under 18 years of age) may require appointment of a guardian if the parents are unavailable to authorize care and provide for the physical needs of the minor. The guardianship continues until the minor reaches 18 years of age or is otherwise terminated by the court.
What is Conservatorship?
In Arizona, a conservator is a person appointed by the court to preserve the finances and make financial decisions for a minor with assets or an adult who is incapable of handling his or her own financial affairs. A conservatorship may be appropriate for a minor (a person under 18 years of age) or an adult and requires court proceedings similar to those for a guardianship. A general statement of the procedure for appointment of a conservator is below.
Procedure to appoint a guardian or conservator
Before appointment of a guardian or conservator for an adult can be completed, a written medical opinion must be provided to the court setting forth the medical condition and the reasons a guardian is needed. The guardianship or conservatorship proceeding (for a minor or adult) requires a court hearing. Evidence is presented as to the need for the guardian or conservator, the qualifications of the person who is to be appointed guardian and, if the proceeding involves appointment for an adult, the written report of a court appointed investigator who will conduct interviews of the person to be appointed guardian or conservator, the person who is in need of the guardian or conservator and others as the court investigator determines. The court may appoint a court investigator in a petition for appointment of guardian or conservator of a minor under certain circumstances. The court will also appoint an attorney to represent an adult person who is in need of a guardian or conservator unless the person has an attorney of his or her own choosing. The court may appoint an attorney for a minor under certain circumstances.
Upon conclusion of the hearing and if the court is satisfied as to the need for a guardian or conservator, the court will enter an order making the appointment. The person appointed will then accept the appointment by signing Letters, a legal document which is filed with the Clerk of the Court. The Clerk can then issue certified copies of the Letters as needed by the guardian or conservator. In situations where it is necessary to appoint both a guardian and conservator, the same person can serve in both capacities or different persons may be appointed.