Arizona Guardianships and Arizona Conservatorships

Impairments ranging from disability to the effects of aging can make it difficult for people to handle their own affairs.  When left to their own devices, these people can make dangerous financial and medical decisions.  The law has certain safeguards in place, however, designed to protect people in such a situation.  These protections come in the form of guardians and conservators.  Upon approval from the court, guardians step in to act on behalf of someone who is no longer able to make safe medical decisions.  Similarly, with the court’s approval, conservators step in to make financial decisions on behalf of someone who is no longer able.

Courts have discretion to grant guardians and conservators very broad or limited authority, depending on the particular situation.  When petitioned to create a guardianship or conservatorship, courts consider whether the individual has made prior arrangements to have somebody handle his medical and financial issues; and whether the individual is legally incapacitated.  An Arizona guardianship attorney or conservatorship attorney can be helpful in persuading the court that a guardianship or conservatorship is indeed necessary.

Arizona Guardianships and Conservatorships:  For the Elderly

Guardianships and conservatorships are commonly created to protect elderly people who have lost capacity to make important decisions.  Family members who notice a decline in an aging parent’s ability to make safe and wise decisions oftentimes seek guardianship information or conservatorship information to determine whether their parent requires such an arrangement.  Families that decide a guardianship or conservatorship is appropriate can petition the court to make the appointment.  The court may appoint a guardian or conservator if it agrees that the individual lacks capacity to make important decisions.

Establishing a guardianship or conservatorship without an attorney

People always have the right to represent themselves in court without an attorney.  This means that anybody can petition the court to establish a guardianship or conservatorship without the counsel of a guardianship attorney or conservatorship attorney.  Those who petition the court without counsel should do so with the understanding that establishing guardianships and conservatorships can be complicated and time consuming.  To help those who decide to proceed with the process without an attorney, however, the court has taken steps to assist people through the process on their own.   All of the guardianship forms and conservatorship forms, along with instructions, are available online at the Arizona Superior Court’s website.

Emergency guardianship and conservatorship proceedings

Generally speaking, it takes about six to eight weeks to establish a guardianship or conservatorship in Arizona.  In some situations, however, medical or financial emergencies provide compelling reasons for the court to speed things along.  Situations that warrant an emergency guardianship or conservatorship may include crises requiring medical intervention, as well as certain financial crises.  In emergency situations, people should file a petition for a temporary appointment of a guardian, conservator, or both, at the same time they file the petition for the permanent appointment.  Hearings for temporary appointments are generally held within three to ten working days of the petition.  If appointed, the temporary guardian or conservator will retain authority until a full hearing can be held on the matter, at which point the appointment may be extended to a full guardianship or conservatorship.

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