Advocating through Conservatorship and Guardianship
Arizona Attorneys Help You Protect Your Loved Ones – It’s the scenario no one ever wants to contemplate: who will take care of my dependents if something happens to me? Whether you care for minor children or an incapacitated adult, such as an ailing parent, this question can be the most challenging aspect of planning your estate. Choosing someone to care for your loved one could mean setting up a guardianship or conservatorship. Contacting an estate planning attorney can put your mind at ease by helping you understand the legal process and establishing a plan so that your dependent is taken care of in the event the worst happens.
In the simplest terms, conservatorships and guardianships are legal processes that allow an individual or entity to manage the affairs of a minor or an incapacitated adult. Each role performs different functions, but both work to preserve the safety of the child or adult in question.
What is a Guardianship?
According to the Arizona State Bar, a guardianship is the appointment, by a court or a will, of an individual or entity to provide care and to make personal decisions for a ward— either a minor, or a mentally or physically incapacitated adult. Essentially, a guardianship role is very similar to that of a parent, and the person chosen for this position must be deemed to always have the best interests of the ward in mind. And to ensure this responsibility is being performed correctly, the guardian must make annual reports to the court to account for the ward’s well-being.
In the case of an adult ward who is either mentally or physically incapacitated, the process of appointing a guardianship requires the ward to be represented by an attorney. The responsibilities are the same for the guardian of an adult as for a minor— the ward’s best interests are kept in mind, and regular reports are required to ensure the guardian is held accountable.
What is a Conservatorship?
A conservatorship is used when the financial affairs of an individual, deemed to be incapacitated or unqualified, need to be managed. This applies to either an incapacitated adult or a minor child, called a protected person. Different from a guardianship, this role exclusively relates to financial decisions. However, one similarity they share is that an incapacitated adult must be represented by an attorney during the appointment process, while this is not required for a minor.
A conservatorship can be appointed to an individual, like a family member or friend, or to an entity, like a private fiduciary. The chosen conservator is given the power to make investments, control real estate, pay bills, and perform any other transactions necessary for the welfare of the protected person. To ensure the conservatorship is operating correctly, meticulous records must be kept of all financial actions, thereby keeping the conservator accountable. Moreover, the conservator can only use the estate for the protected person, and any personal use of the funds is strictly illegal.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you have any questions about guardianships or conservatorships, an experienced attorney can provide you with answers. With over 30 years of combined legal experience advocating for individuals and families in Arizona, the attorneys at Bellah Perez can effectively guide you through these complex legal processes, and help you understand the differences between a guardianship and a conservatorship.
Whether you find yourself needing to manage your incapacitated parent’s legal, medical, or financial affairs, or you want to establish a guardianship for a minor, our compassionate estate planning attorneys will guide you through every step, whether by preparing necessary documents or representing you in court.
Representation in a Variety of Estate Planning Matters
Our lawyers handle a number of other estate planning matters, including:
- Creating Wills and Trusts
- Drafting Powers of Attorney
- Providing Representation in Probate Matters
- Drafting Beneficiary Deeds