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Determining When Guardianship is Needed in Arizona

Man talking to his older father and trying to figure out when guardianship is needed in Arizona

Guardianship of a vulnerable person can be a necessary measure when the person in need is unable to make decisions on their own or effectively handle day-to-day tasks. In Arizona, it is important to understand the different aspects of how guardianship works and when guardianship is needed.

Here’s When Guardianship is Needed for a Minor?

In Arizona, A.R.S. Section 14-5204 specifies when guardianship may be needed for an unmarried minor. Here are the situations:

  • If all parental rights of custody have been terminated or suspended by circumstances or prior court order.
  • A guardian appointed by will has priority over any guardian who may be appointed by the court. (But the court may proceed with an appointment of a different person under some circumstances.)
  • The parents of the child are decease.
  • The parents are incarcerated. If both parents of a minor child are incarcerated, a guardian may be needed to provide care and make decisions on behalf of the child.
  • The child is in danger. If a minor child is in danger due to neglect, abuse, or other circumstances, a guardian may be needed to protect the child’s well-being.

In Arizona, the court may appoint a guardian for a minor child after a petition is filed and a hearing is held. The court will consider the best interests of the child when making a decision about guardianship.

How to Figure Out When Guardianship is Needed for an Adult.

The court may appoint a guardian for an adult pursuant to A.R.S. Section 14-5304 if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that:

1. The person for whom a guardian is sought is incapacitated.

2. The appointment is necessary to provide for the demonstrated needs of the incapacitated person.

3. The person’s needs cannot be met by less restrictive means, including the use of appropriate technological assistance.

In other words, guardianship is usually needed in Arizona when a vulnerable person lacks the capacity to provide for their own care, health and safety. This can include factors such as intellectual disabilities, mental illness, physical disabilities or age-related decline in mental faculties. Guardianship may also be needed when a person’s behavior threatens their well-being or that of others, necessitating someone else to manage their affairs.

What Types of Guardianship Are Available in Arizona?

In Arizona, guardianship can be full or limited. Full guardianship is granted when a person is not capable of making decisions about matters such as medical care, finances, and other important decisions. Limited guardianship limits the decision-making authority to only certain areas that are specified by the court, enabling a person to retain control over certain facets while reducing their overall risk of exploitation.

Who Can Petition For Legal Guardianship in Arizona?

Any person interested in the affairs or welfare of an incapacitated person may petition for the appointment of a guardian or for any other appropriate protective order. And the incapacitated person themself may request the appointment of a guardian. See A.R.S. Section 14-5303.

Legal guardianship can be petitioned for by any person who has an interest in the welfare of the proposed ward, such as family members, close friends, or legal professionals. This process is usually initiated when a person is unable to make decisions for themselves due to advanced age, physical or mental illness, or disability. It should be noted that the court must determine that the proposed guardian would be in the best interests of the incapacitated person.

What Does the Court Consider When Appointing a Guardian in Arizona?

Here are some factors a court uses to determine when a guardianship is needed for an individual in Arizona:

  • the wishes of the proposed ward and whom they have chosen for their guardian.
  • Who will be the most suitable guardian.
  • Any alternatives to a guardianship that may be available. For example, did the person sign a health care power of attorney when they were still mentally competent.
  • The physical and mental condition of the incapacitated person.
  • How well the incapacitated person can manage their own affairs.
  • Whether the incapacitated person is being exploited or are at risk of exploitation.

This is not an all-inclusive list. If you have questions about your specific situation, give us a call at 602-443-4888.

Still Have Questions About When Guardianship Is Needed in Arizona?

Are you concerned about the well-being of a loved one who is unable to make important decisions due to a physical or mental disability? Is a minor child in your care in need of a legal guardian? Our law firm is here to help.

We understand that guardianship can be a complex and emotional process, and we are committed to providing compassionate and effective legal representation to our clients.

Our team of skilled attorneys will guide you through every step of the guardianship process, from filing the necessary paperwork to representing you in court. We will work tirelessly to protect the best interests of your loved one and ensure that their needs are met.

If you believe that guardianship may be necessary for a loved one in your care, call us at 602-443-4888 for a consultation. We are ready to assist you with all of your guardianship needs. We’re here to help.


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.


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