Legal Guardianship in Arizona

by Andrine Redsteer

In Arizona, as in other states, an adult may obtain legal guardianship over a minor or an incapacitated adult with approval from a court. The person for whom a guardianship is established is known as the ward. Legal guardians have specific responsibilities including providing their wards with protection, support and care.

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Understanding Guardianship

Arizona's statutes explain the duties and responsibilities of a guardian. A guardian is required to make decisions concerning everyday matters, handle living arrangements and provide shelter, food and clothing. In Arizona, as in other states, a guardian may make everyday decisions for a ward; however, managing the guardian's finances is generally not allowed, as conservators generally manage finances. An Arizona court may require a legal guardian to check in regularly and provide information concerning his performance.

Where Guardianship is Granted

In Arizona, legal guardianship of a minor is granted by a probate court or a juvenile court. Probate courts are best known for admitting wills and overseeing probate proceedings; however, these courts appoint guardians as well. Arizona law requires individuals who want to obtain legal guardianship over a minor to give the minor child's parents and/or custodian 60-day notice prior to filing a petition for guardianship. Moreover, an individual who wishes to obtain legal guardianship over a minor child must prove to a court that guardianship is in the child's best interests. To petition for guardianship of an adult, a petitioner must file in probate court as well. He must notify the proposed ward's conservators, any current guardians and adult children.

When Guardianship is Granted

A probate court may grant guardianship if a minor child's parent left instructions in a last will and testament; this is called "testamentary appointment." Moreover, an individual may petition a court for legal guardianship if a court has terminated the parental rights of the proposed ward's parents. Legal guardianship may be granted when an incapacitated adult requires care and supervision. Generally, an adult is considered incapacitated if he is incapable of making his own medical decisions.

How Long Guardianship Lasts

Guardianship may last until a minor child reaches legal adulthood, which is 18 years old in Arizona. Generally, if a minor child's parents object to the guardianship and their parental rights have not been extinguished, they may petition the court for termination of the guardianship, even if they previously consented. Guardianship is also terminated upon the death of the ward.