Last modified on February 12th, 2021 at 11:04 am

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What is Required for a Permanent Guardianship or Conservatorship in Arizona?

There are certain situations where you might need to be appointed by a court to be a loved one’s conservator and/or guardian. If your loved one is being affected heavily by a disability or aging, they may no longer be able to make safe decisions with their finances and health.

When someone is deemed incompetent to manage their own affairs, the law makes it possible for you to protect them in the form of a conservator and guardian. Before finding out whether or not guardianship is right for your situation, keep reading to find out more about permanent guardianship or conservatorship for someone in Arizona.

What is Guardianship?

A guardianship is an authority granted by the court. It allows a person to make decisions for someone who is incapacitated. If someone is unable to make choices regarding their health and finances and is unable to sign a power of attorney, a guardianship is necessary to make those choices for them.

Who should seek guardianship? Guardianship is necessary if you have no power of attorney or failed to achieve power of attorney with a loved one. It is also a good idea to seek it out if the loved one needs to be placed in assisted living or cannot consent to inpatient treatment.

In most cases, guardianships are for minors, those with disabilities, or those who have become incapacitated for various reasons.

Guardianship for a Person with Dementia

It is difficult to watch an elderly family member go through dementia or Alzheimer’s. Beyond the emotional toll, there will also come a time when they are unable to take care of themselves. It is almost always necessary that a loved one becomes a guardian for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

When you become a guardian for a person with dementia, you are given rights similar to the rights a parent has with their child. You will be able to handle their finances and health decisions.

Legal Guardians and Medical Bills

People often ask us if the legal guardian is responsible for paying the ward’s medical debts. To summarize, you do have to ensure that bills are paid when they should be. If there are no funds to cover the payments, however, you are not responsible for paying for them.

It is a good idea to contact us, we can determine what you are responsible for depending on your specific situation.

You do not have to pay their medical bills out of your pocket; plus, the debt will not impact your credit if it is sent to collections.

Negligence, or willfully avoiding payments though, will mean you are responsible for damages caused by not making the payments if there are assets available.

When You Can Become a Guardian

Guardianships are used only for minors and adults who can no longer care for themselves. For matters of health, finances, living location, or education (for minors), a guardian is responsible for making those choices. Even for people who are completely incapacitated, a guardian is able to make decisions on someone’s behalf although they may not have the ability to communicate their thoughts on important decisions.

To establish guardianship, an incapacitated person will need to be seen by a doctor or psychologist in Arizona to determine if they need to have an appointed guardian.

What is a Conservatorship?

Conservatorship is also an authority granted by the court, allowing a person to make choices for an incapacitated person. It focuses more on their assets and other finances rather than on medical decisions.

Who should seek a conservatorship? You will want to have this authority if you need to protect a vulnerable loved one from being taken advantage of. It is also needed if a bank refuses to recognize your power of attorney or if your loved needs help paying bills because many utility companies, pension companies, and even social security will ask to see either a POA or a court-granted conservatorship before allowing you access to your loved one’s information. A conservatorship may also be necessary if you are planning to apply to the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) on behalf of your loved one.

How Conservatorships Work

When you are granted a conservatorship, you are given the power by a judge to make choices for an incapacitated person or someone who cannot legally make their own decisions (like a minor or someone with developmental disabilities).

For older adults, many conservatorship cases revolve around adults who are in comas, have suffered a traumatic brain injury, or have severe dementia. If someone in your life has gone through a serious injury or sickness that resulted in them losing the ability to care for themselves, you can seek to become their conservator.

There are specific conservatorships that can be used to care for a minor, which we will cover below.

Sole Managing Conservatorship

This type of conservatorship is granted to one parent after a divorce. They are given the right to make all final decisions about their child’s health and lifestyle. It also determines where the child lives and gives one parent control over medical health decisions and care.

Plus, this parent will be given the right to make decisions regarding the child’s education. Only one parent is permitted to have conservatorship after a divorce, so you will want to receive it if you need to be the only person making these choices for your child.

About the author: Max Gottlieb