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Becoming a Guardian or Conservator

In order for a guardian and/or conservator to be appointed for an adult in Arizona, someone interested in the person’s welfare must, among other things, file a petition with the probate court in the county where the adult resides, is present or owns property.  The petition must be verified under oath and include substantial information, including information about the petitioner, information about the proposed protected person (also called ward), information about the proposed guardian and/or conservator, the reasons for the guardianship and/or conservatorship, type of guardianship (i.e. limited, general and with or without authority to order in-patient mental health services) and/or conservatorship (i.e. general, limited or single transaction), assets of the proposed protected person and other information.

A guardian for an adult may not be appointed unless the petitioner files a report by a physician, psychologist or registered nurse acting within that person’s scope of practice.  The medical report must include:

1. A specific description of the physical, psychiatric or psychological diagnosis of the person.

2. A comprehensive assessment listing any functional impairments of the alleged incapacitated person and an explanation of how and to what extent these functional impairments may prevent that person from receiving or evaluating information in making decisions or in communicating informed decisions regarding that person.

3. An analysis of the tasks of daily living the alleged incapacitated person is capable of performing without direction or with minimal direction.

4. A list of all medications the alleged incapacitated person is receiving, the dosage of the medications and a description of the effects each medication has on the person’s behavior to the best of the declarant’s knowledge.

5. A prognosis for improvement in the alleged incapacitated person’s condition and a recommendation for the most appropriate rehabilitation plan or care plan.

6. Other information the physician, psychologist or registered nurse deems appropriate.

A.R.S. § 14-5303.

The Court will also appoint an attorney to represent the proposed ward, as well as a court investigator to meet with the ward.

Certain people have priority to serve as conservator for an incapacitated person and include, for example, a conservator, guardian of property or other similar fiduciary appointed or recognized by the appropriate court of any other jurisdiction in which the person to be protected resides; a person nominated by the protected person if the protected person is at least fourteen years of age and has, in the opinion of the court, sufficient mental capacity to make an intelligent choice, the person nominated to serve as conservator in the protected person’s most recent durable power of attorney, the spouse of the protected person and an adult child of the protected person.  Similarly, priorities for appointment as guardian include, among others, the person’s spouse, individual nominated by the ward, adult child, parent or other relative of the incapacitated person, if the relative has lived with the person for more than six months before the petition was filed.

The Court will set a hearing on the petition.  The petitioner must give notice of the hearing to the proposed ward and various other “interested persons.”  At the hearing, the Court will allow witnesses to testify and will determine whether all of the prerequisites to the requested appointment have been met and it is proper and necessary for a guardian and/or conservator to be appointed.  If the Court grants the petition and makes the appointment, the guardian/conservator then has numerous duties, including budgeting, accounting, reporting and others.  The guardian/conservator must complete certain training and file a certificate of completion.  The conservator may have to post a bond before the appointment becomes effective.

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If you have any questions about an Arizona guardianship or conservatorship or need assistance in an elder law matter, contact us.  We have broad experience dealing with a wide variety of probate and elder law matters in Arizona.  To learn more about Arizona adult guardianships and conservatorships, you can read our guardianships/conservatorships article.