There has been a lot of attention devoted to AZ guardianship law lately, much of which has been negative. The picture that has been painted is one where hospital discharge planners, private fiduciaries and attorneys work together to take control of incapacitated individuals’ assets. And, unfortunately, there are a few sad examples out there where this type of practice has indeed happened. But, the truth is that when these professionals work together, it is ordinarily not to deprive an incapacitated adult from his or her assets, but to create a plan by which the vulnerable adult can obtain the services he or she needs.
Hospital discharge planners might need to work with other professionals where an elderly patient is healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital, but did not recover capacity to care for him or herself at home. Because hospital beds are limited, not to mention expensive, these discharge planners must act fast to get the patient out of the hospital and into a suitable care facility. And if the patient neither has powers of attorney nor family members who are involved with his or her planning, discharge planners must make this important decision without firsthand knowledge of the patient’s preferences. Clearly, it only makes sense for discharge planners in this predicament to seek professional help when making this decision.
Discharge planners may work with an AZ guardianship attorney to determine whether the patient is eligible for public benefits to help him or her pay for care in a long-term care facility. Or, discharge planners may need the assistance of a fiduciary that can petition the court for permission to transfer the patient from the hospital to someplace where he or she can obtain an appropriate level of care. Fortunately, AZ guardianship law allows discharge planners to seek professional help, as it generally facilitates a thoughtful group process that benefits patients.