Appointing a guardian

Establishing an Arizona guardianship can be complicated, and a guardianship attorney can be quite helpful with everything that is involved.  The process generally begins when a family member or friend petitions the court to appoint a guardian for somebody for whom they are concerned.  Upon receiving the petition, the court appoints an attorney to represent the proposed ward and schedules a hearing on the matter, where it will consider all of the relevant guardianship information.

While people can seek a guardianship without counsel, a guardianship attorney may be helpful when it comes time for the guardianship hearing.  A court investigator prepares for the hearing by interviewing family members and friends.  The court also requests a physician’s report regarding capacity issues and the need for a guardianship.  On the day of the hearing, the court examines the guardianship paperwork, considers all of the relevant testimony, and appoints a guardian, if appropriate.  With the exception of certain medical emergencies, this entire process takes about eight weeks.

Mental health guardianships

In regards to mental health care, Arizona guardians only have authority to give consent for outpatient care.  Individuals with degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease, however, many times require inpatient mental health treatment.  Other times, inpatient treatment is necessary to treat severe depression or to make medication adjustments.  A hospital’s geriatric psychiatric unit generally treats these types of issues, and treatment may last from a few days to a few weeks or longer.  After inpatient treatment, the individual may be ready to return to a residential care setting.

Because Arizona guardians do not have authority to obtain inpatient treatment for wards, they should always consider seeking the additional authority that a mental health guardianship provides.  With a mental health guardianship, guardians may obtain inpatient mental health treatment if the ward requires it, without first seeking the court’s permission.  This authority, however, only lasts for up to one year, which means that timing is important when petitioning the court for such a guardianship.  Depending on the circumstances, waiting to establish a mental health guardianship may be better than seeking a mental health guardianship at the initial guardianship proceeding.  When determining whether to appoint a mental health guardian, the court considers mental health guardianship information, such as a psychological or psychiatric evaluation, and may appoint a mental health guardian, with authority lasting for one year, if appropriate.