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Baumann, Kelly, Paytas, & Bernstein - Phoenix, 
    Arizona law firm Baumann, Kelly, Paytas, & Bernstein - Phoenix, 
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GUARDIANSHIP/CONSERVATORSHIP LAW


Baumann, Doyle, Paytas & Bernstein, P.L.L.C. has substantial experience with respect to guardianship and conservator proceedings.  We can assist you in obtaining guardianship and/or conservatorship where needed, and we can assist in setting up less restrictive safeguards which will protect the legal and financial needs of your family.

ADULT GUARDIANSHIP/CONSERVATORSHIP

Due to the normal progression of aging, accidental injury or illness, at some point in many people’s lives, they become unable to manage their own affairs due to mental incapacity.  Our firm understands that this is a very sensitive issue for most people and we endeavor to assist our clients in making the decisions necessary to protect their loved ones and their assets.  This can be a very difficult time for the both the people who are experiencing difficulties and their families. 

Our firm also has extensive experience in representing individuals with respect to guardianship and/or conservatorship proceedings involving mentally and physically impaired adults.  Although the challenges associated with the elderly in our society is self-evident, often people do not realize that their legal authority as a parent does not continue after their child turns 18 years old, even if that child is obviously handicapped and unable to manage their own affairs.  In that instance, a guardianship is necessary to allow the parent to continue to act with legal authority.  Our experienced attorneys can advise you as to how and when to approach the guardianship process.

MINOR GUARDIANSHIP

Sometimes, due to the inability of a parent to care for their child, the death of a parent or other circumstances that may unfortunately arise, grandparents or other relatives seek to obtain guardianship over a minor child.  Our firm is qualified to assist you in obtaining this guardianship, which must be granted by the juvenile court.  Our qualified staff can review the specifics of your situation to assist you in determining the course of action that best protects the minor child in your care.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING GUARDIANSHIPS AND CONSERVATORSHIPS

Question:   What is a guardian?
Answer: A guardian is a person appointed by the court to make medical and care decisions for an incapacitated person. This is similar to the role a parent has over their child.
   
Question: What is a conservator?
Answer: A conservator is a person appointed by the court to manage financial affairs for an incapacitated person or for a minor.  
   
Question:   Can the same person be both guardian and conservator?
Answer:

Yes, it is very common for the same person to be both guardian and conservator.

   
Question: Who can serve as guardian or conservator?
Answer: Relatives such as parents, adult children and siblings have priority to serve as guardian and/or conservator, but if no relatives are willing to serve, the law has guidelines to determine who will be appointed by the court.  The Maricopa County Public Fiduciary and Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services are two public agencies that are often appointed to serve as guardian and/or conservator for people without relatives.
   
Question:   What if the alleged incapacitated persondoes not want a guardian or conservator?
Answer:

If a person does not want a guardian/conservator, they may contest the action.  The court appoints an attorney to represent the person who is the subject of the Petition for Appointment of Guardianship and/or Conservator.  A doctor’s evaluation is required for virtually every guardianship/conservatorship.  Ultimately, the court determines if a guardian/conservator is appropriate based upon the facts presented.

   
Question: When is a guardianship/conservatorship necessary?
Answer:

When a person becomes unable to manage his/her affairs or take care of his/herself, either due to age, physical or mental illness or injury, or if someone is mentally handicapped, it may be necessary for another interested person to file a petition for guardianship/conservatorship.  Sometimes less restrictive alternatives are available that may protect the alleged incapacitated person.  Our experienced professionals can assist you in evaluating your particular situation.

   
Question:   Can another relative object to my appointment as guardian and/or conservator?
Answer:

Yes, any interested party may object in a guardianship/conservatorship matter.  Usually these objections can be easily resolved, but ultimately, the court makes the decision as to who is appointed to serve as guardian and/or conservator.  The person who is subject to the action also has a voice in who is appointed to represent him/her.

   
Question: What if the person has no relatives or the relatives cannot be located?
Answer: If a person has no living relatives or the relatives cannot be located, a public agency or private fiduciary can be appointed as guardian and/or conservator.  In some situations, a close friend can be appointed by the court. 
   
Question:  

Once I am appointed as guardian and /or conservator, do I have to continue to report to the court?

Answer: Yes, guardians must file an annual report to the court every year on the anniversary of their appointment.  In most cases, conservators must file an annual accounting of the incapacitated person’s financial situation and that accounting is reviewed and must be approved by the court.
   
Question: Are there any safeguards in place to protect a person’s financial assets from an unscrupulous conservator?
Answer: Most conservators are required to be bonded as insurance for the value of the incapacitated person’s assets.  Frequently, large bank accounts and real estate holdings are restricted by the court from sale or encumbrance.  The Court Accountant reviews the annual accountings and must approve the accounting before the court will approve it.
       
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Baumann, Doyle, Paytas & Bernstein, P.L.L.C.     2929 N. 44th Street      Suite 120     Phoenix, AZ 85018-7239     Phone (602)952-8500       Fax (602)667-6552

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