Guardianship normally requires a specific process to ensure that the rights of the potentially unfit individual are protected. However, the court acknowledges that in some cases, time is of the essence and that a guardian must be appointed as soon as possible. In these cases, special circumstances justify approving a guardian quickly.
However, it should be noted that if a guardian is ever found to be unfit in their duties, or that they have tried to shove the guardianship case through to take advantage of the allegedly incapacitated person, they will be punished.
When to Apply for Guardianship
In Arizona, you can become a guardian of someone else if they are no longer representing their own best interests. It can be difficult to discuss, but the elderly often need a guardian. As mental faculties decline, the possibility of danger or being exploited financially, rises, and the elderly need someone to fight for them.
For the elderly, you can watch out for certain signs that may require a guardian. If they have a hard time with financial problems (especially if these problems are due to erratic and extreme spending), then you may want to become a guardian to make sure that they are being provided for. You can also apply to become a guardian to protect their physical safety; such as moving them to a long-term care facility or removing them from an unsafe home. If your loved one is easily confused or irritable, then this could be another sign of declining mental abilities.
The bottom line is that it is hard to watch those you love struggle in their daily lives. If you believe that you can provide for your loved one’s needs while they cannot, it could be time to file for guardianship. Know that you will need to prove both their incapability of making decisions on their own and your ability to care for them. The burden of proof will be on you to show you are the best option for them.
Guardianship Process Timeline
To ensure a thorough examination of each guardianship case, applying for guardianship can take months. If you are worried that this is not a realistic timeline because the ward requires immediate attention, you can express the special circumstances in your application for guardianship. This will not last as long as the guardianship appointed through the full process, but it is a good way to make sure that the immediate needs of your loved one are being taken care of.
If you become an emergency guardian for someone, your title as guardian will only last for a short time. This period is to protect the ward from being exploited. You can request to extend your guardianship when this period is up, but you will have to show evidence to the court that the ward requires an emergency guardian while the process for filing permanent guardianship is being carried out.
The ward is typically given a 24-hour notice before the emergency guardianship hearing, but this can be waived. Cases that require absolute immediate guardianship will have this period removed by a judge if this is deemed necessary.
What Are Special Circumstances?
The circumstances necessary for an emergency guardian revolve around impending events and possible injury. If the safety of the ward is in question, emergency guardianship is the way to protect them from potential harm.Immediate bodily harm is one of the most compelling reasons for emergency guardianship. This is the case when the person in question could cause self-harm, or they are living in an unsafe environment. If they require to be removed from their current situation to avoid some kind of bodily harm, an emergency guardianship may be applied.
Abuse is another consideration of the courts. If the ward is being abused, guardianship can be a way to get them out of the abusive situation. If the ward is living with their abuser, and emergency guardianship can get them out of harm’s way. On the other hand, if the ward is abusive themselves, this kind of guardianship can be implemented to protect others that they live with. Guardianship can be a means of relocation for abusers that protects others.
Medical treatments can also require an emergency guardianship. It is possible that these are not urgent, but they may still be needed before the typical four-month period of permanent guardianship is up.
When considering applying for emergency guardianship, be sure that you will be able to meet the needs of the ward in question. The safety of the ward will always be the top priority in any decisions related to guardianship, so come prepared to show that you will provide safer circumstances than the ward is currently experiencing. Speak with an attorney when applying for emergency guardianship to ensure that your case is represented correctly before the court.