When age is more than just a number: How to become a guardian for your aging family member

Arizona guardianship attorney

The process of aging doesn’t only bring with it achy bones and increased forgetfulness. In more serious cases, individuals may reach a level of mental or physical incapacitation that adversely affects their ability to make decisions or perform basic activities.

Do you have an aging parent or relative who is no longer able to make or communicate decisions regarding their own welfare? In the state of Arizona, there are laws in place to ensure an “incapacitated adult” (also known as a ward) is well cared for by appointing a guardian. A guardian is entrusted to make personal decisions for his or her ward, including medical care, social activities, and living arrangements.

How does the guardianship appointment process work?

If the court finds that a guardianship is appropriate, it can appoint either a person, such as a family member like yourself, or a private fiduciary, which is a person or entity that is licensed and paid to act as someone’s guardian. In some cases, the court may appoint the public fiduciary of the county as guardian for an adult ward.

Anyone deemed competent by the court can be appointed as a guardian, though there is a list of priorities that the court considers. The court prioritizes selection based on, among other things, a person already serving as a guardian, a person being nominated by the ward themselves, the person being the ward’s spouse, or the person being the ward’s adult child. Even if a person is considered to have lower priority for guardianship appointment, the court will usually make the appointment based on the best interest of the ward.

How do I become a guardian?

The process of becoming a guardian includes petitioning the court for appointment, providing background information, such as how many times the applicant has acted as a guardian in the past, any felony history, and other personal information. The potential ward and other individuals, such as the incapacitated person’s spouse, adult children, parents, or current guardian, must be personally served notice of the time and place of the hearing.

Adult wards must be represented by an attorney during this process, and, in addition, the court must appoint a court investigator and a physician, both of whom will interview the ward and submit their reports to the court prior to the hearing date.

If you are interested in petitioning the court to become a guardian, experienced legal representation can help you throughout the guardianship petition process. Our knowledgable Probate attorneys will guide you every step of the way, and can assist in showing the court that you are the right choice to act as guardian and serve the best interests of the ward. Contact us today to learn more about guardianship and to speak with one of our attorneys.

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