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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

Are you unsure about the different types of guardianship in Arizona? Or when guardianship is needed? If you’re interested in becoming a guardian for an adult, understanding the various options available is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the different types of guardianship in Arizona. This will provide you with the information you need to navigate the legal process confidently.

From permanent guardianship to temporary guardianship, there are various paths to take depending on your specific circumstances. Each type of guardianship has its own set of requirements and responsibilities. It’s important to know the differences to make informed decisions.

Stay tuned as we explore the ins and outs of guardianship in Arizona. Furthermore, we will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the different types of guardianship in Arizona and their implications.

What is guardianship in Arizona?

The court establishes a legal relationship called guardianship. This grants a person the authority and responsibility to make decisions on behalf of another individual who is unable to make decisions for themselves. In Arizona, a guardian can be appointed for either a minor or an incapacitated adult. (Our law firm handles guardianships over adults. Whereas a family law firm typically handles guardianships over minors.)

When a person becomes a guardian, they assume certain legal duties and obligations to act in the best interests of the individual they are appointed to protect. The court grants the guardian the authority to make decisions regarding the individual’s healthcare decisions, living arrangements, and day-to-day care.

It’s important to note that guardianship is a serious legal commitment and should only be pursued when necessary. The court will carefully consider the circumstances before granting guardianship, prioritizing the well-being and best interests of the individual in question.

What is a conservatorship in Arizona?

In Arizona, a conservatorship is a legal arrangement that grants an individual the authority to manage the financial affairs and assets of another person who is unable to do so themselves. This is different from guardianship, which focuses on making decisions related to personal and medical matters.

A conservator is appointed by the court when an individual is unable to manage their own finances due to age, incapacity, or disability. The conservator’s role is to protect and manage the person’s assets, pay bills, make investments, make investment decisions, and handle other financial matters on their behalf.

It’s important to understand that guardianship and conservatorship can be established separately, depending on the specific needs of the individual. In some cases, both may be necessary to ensure the well-being and protection of the person in question.

Types of guardianship in Arizona

In Arizona, there are two main types of guardianship: guardianship for an adult and guardianship for a child. Our law firm handles adult guardianships. If you want to get a guardianship for a minor child, you would typically talk to a family law firm.

Here is a quick breakdown of the types of guardianship in Arizona for an adult:

Temporary guardianship of an adult

Temporary guardianship is one of the types of guardianship in Arizona that is granted for a specific period, usually 6 months or less. It is governed by A.R.S. Section 14-5310. A temporary guardianship can be granted either with or without notice. “Without notice” means that other family members and even the ward are not given notice of the proceedings. It is only good for a maximum of 30 days.

“With notice” means that other family members and the ward are given notice of the hearing. The way this normally works is that a temporary guardianship may be granted without notice, and then the court schedules a hearing (with formal notice being given to the ward and the ward’s family) at which the petitioner has to prove that the guardianship should remain in place.

Permanent guardianship of an adult

Permanent guardianship is a long-term arrangement that grants a person the legal authority and responsibility to care for a minor or an incapacitated adult. Once permanent guardianship is granted, the guardian assumes the responsibility to provide for the individual’s daily needs, make decisions regarding their welfare, and ensure their overall well-being.

The court will appoint a permanent guardian for an incapacitated adult if the guardianship will be needed for more than 6 months and a doctor or other authorized health care professional will say that the incapacitated person needs a guardian. The health care professional will suggest when guardianship is needed for someone unable to make their own healthcare decisions or personal well-being decisions. When guardianship is needed for an older adult, it’s often due to conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia that impairs their decision-making capabilities.

Limited guardianship of an adult

Limited guardianship is one of the types of guardianship in Arizona that grants a person the limited authority to make decisions on specific matters for an individual who is not fully incapacitated. This type of guardianship is sought when the individual is capable of making some decisions but requires assistance in certain areas.

Emergency guardianship

One of the types of guardianship in Arizona is an “Emergency Guardianship.” This type of guardianship is granted on an expedited basis when there is an immediate need to protect an individual from harm or neglect. It is typically sought in situations where the individual is in danger and requires immediate intervention.

Conservatorship in Arizona

An Arizona court can appoint a conservator when the following two criteria are met: (1) the person is unable to manage his or her assets and financial affairs because of, for example, “mental illness, mental deficiency, mental disorder, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, confinement, detention by a foreign power or disappearance [and] (2) the person has property that will be wasted or dissipated unless proper management is provided, or that funds are needed for the support, care and welfare of the person or those entitled to be supported by the person and that protection is necessary or desirable to obtain or provide funds.” A.R.S. § 14-5401.

A conservatorship may be general, limited or for a single transaction.

Process of establishing guardianship in Arizona

When determining guardianship in Arizona, the court considers several factors to ensure the best interests of the ward are met. These factors include the individual’s physical and mental condition, their ability to make decisions, their wishes, and any potential conflicts of interest.

The court will evaluate the individual’s current and future needs, considering their medical, educational, and emotional well-being. They will also assess the individual’s ability to understand and participate in the decision-making process. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem, a neutral party, to gather information and advocate for the best interests of the ward.

Additionally, the court will take into account the individual’s wishes, if they are capable of expressing them. This includes considering any preferences regarding living arrangements, medical treatment, and personal relationships. However, the court will prioritize the individual’s safety and well-being over their preferences if there is a conflict.

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 Are the Types of Guardianship in Arizona?

In Arizona, guardianship can be full or limited. The court grants full guardianship when a person is not capable of making decisions about matters such as healthcare decisions, safe living arrangements, or providing for their day-to-day care. 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. A guardianship can also be temporary or permanent.

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 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 someone is exploiting the incapacitated person or the person is 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. We can assess when guardianship is needed to protect the interests of someone who cannot manage their own affairs.

Still Have Questions About When Guardianship Is Needed in Arizona?

Are you concerned about a loved one who is unable to make decisions due to a physical or mental disability? Deciding when an adult needs guardianship can be a complex process. It involves a legal determination of their ability to manage personal and financial affairs. That is why our law firm is here to help.

We understand that guardianship can be a complex and emotional process. That is why we are committed to providing compassionate and effective legal representation to our clients. We can assess when guardianship is needed to protect the interests of individuals who cannot manage their own affairs. Additionally, we can provide guidance on the types of guardianship in Arizona, so you can determine which type is appropriate for your unique situation.

Our team of skilled attorneys will guide you through every step of the guardianship process. This includes anything 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.