What is a Guardianship? A Guardianship, in Arizona, is the appointment of a person to make decisions for the care of a minor or incapacitated adult, called the "ward." A Guardian is appointed by a Will or by a Court. In order to have a guardian appointed by the Court, for an incapacitated adult, the ward must be evaluated by a physician and a court investigator. Additionally, the Court will hold a hearing to determine if the person is incapacitated and to ensure that the person asking to be appointed understands his/her obligations to the ward and to the Court. A Guardian has powers and responsibilities similar to that of a parent. The guardian may make personal decisions for the ward such as living arrangement, education, social activities and authorization or withholding of medical or other professional care, treatment or advice. The Court can also limit the responsibilities. A guardian must submit a written report to the court annually. The report includes information about the ward's health and living conditions. Generally, guardians do not manage the income and other funds of the ward. Those responsibilities are taken care of by the Conservator (see below).
What is a Conservator? A Conservator, in Arizona, is the appointment of a person to make decisions related to an incapacitated adult related to the management of his or her property and income. The same general process for appointment of guardian is used for appointment of a conservator. The incapacitated person is referred to as the "protected person." A conservator has the powers and responsibilities of a fiduciary. This is a high standard of care. Within 90 days of appointment, the conservator must file an inventory of the estate (assets, including real property, personal property, bank accounts and investments) of the protected person. Thereafter, the accounting must be filed every year. It must show all amounts used out of the estate of the protected person and all assets obtained. A conservator has the power to invest funds of the estate and to distribute funds reasonably necessary for the support, care, education or benefit of the protected person and those legally dependant on the protected person.
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