Getting through daily life requires some understanding of what is going on around you – an understanding of your own needs, the ability to interpret events, and the capacity to communicate with others. For many reasons, from injury to disease to age, people can lose that understanding, leaving them unable to navigate the increasingly complex world they inhabit or to provide for their own basic needs, like food and shelter. For this reason, the importance of speaking with a knowledgeable Sun City guardianship attorney at Gorman & Jones, PLC cannot be understated.
Arizona law provides for the appointment of a guardian for any person suffering an incapacity that prevents him from making or communicating reasonable decisions “concerning his person.” The reason for the incapacity is largely irrelevant; it’s the incapacity to care for oneself that matters.
Once a guardian is appointed, the incapacitated person is known as a “ward.”
Guardianships may be limited or general. A limited guardian takes over responsibility for specific aspects of the ward’s life, such as health care or finding and maintaining shelter. A general guardianship places the guardian in control of virtually all matters that have to do with the ward’s life, except for handling finances and property (which are conservatorship matters; see below). Arizona law describes the extent of a general guardian’s powers as the same ones that parents exercise over their unemancipated children.
Under some circumstances, a guardian may be appointed on a temporary basis, for a specific period of time.
Any interested person, including the incapacitated person, can petition the court to appoint a guardian. The court’s job is to determine whether the person is so incapacitated as to need a guardian and, if so, who should serve as the guardian. To those ends, the court appoints an investigator and a medical professional to examine the person claimed to be in need of a guardian. Both submit reports prior to the hearing.
The person alleged to be incapacitated is entitled to notice of the hearing time and place, as are any other interested parties like family and current caretakers. At the hearing, the person claimed to be incapacitated is entitled to be represented by a Sun City guardianship attorney and has the right to present evidence of his own, as well as to cross-examine any witnesses in the proceeding.
A potential guardian has to provide enough background information for the court to satisfy itself that the guardian can be trusted to act for the ward.
As indicated earlier, guardians are appointed to protect the ward’s general welfare and health. Matters of finance and property are left to a conservator. Many incapacitated people need both a guardian and a conservator, and under Arizona law, the same person may play both roles.
It is possible that the need for a guardian may be avoided if the incapacitated person has executed powers of attorney that cover all the aspects of care that a guardian would oversee, but that isn’t usually the case. On top of that, the incapacitated person would have had to execute the powers of attorney before becoming incapacitated in order for the powers to be valid.
A guardianship can be terminated for many reasons, primarily:
Before ending a guardianship for any of the last three reasons, the court basically engages in the same type of investigation that was performed prior to making the initial appointment.
Guardianship proceedings are serious matters and often fraught with emotion. Appointment of a guardian seriously curtails the ward’s right to control his own life. If justified, that can be a great help; if unjustified, it should be prevented from happening. The Sun City estate planning attorneys at Gorman & Jones, PLC, have many years of experience in successfully handling guardianship issues and the full range of estate and trust laws in Arizona.
Whether you’re contemplating asking for a guardian for someone, wondering whether you should agree to serve as a guardian for someone, or wondering whether a guardian is properly performing his duties, a Sun City guardianship lawyer at our firm can help. We can also assist you by including appropriate authorizations in your comprehensive estate plan, including powers of attorney and health care proxies, which will reduce the likelihood of a court ever having to appoint a guardian for you in the event of some future incapacity.
Give us a call now or contact us online to arrange an appointment to speak with an experienced Sun City guardianship attorney for the guidance and legal advocacy you need. Explain your concerns, and we’ll explain what your options are and how to go about pursuing the one you choose.
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