What is a guardianship/conservatorship?

A guardianship allows you to make medical and other day-to-day decisions for a person who is incapable of making decisions that are in their own best interests. Similarly, a conservatorship allows you to make financial decisions for a person who is incapable of managing their finances. Typically, you will apply for both guardianship and conservatorship at the same time, although in some circumstances you may choose to apply for one and not the other. Our Chandler guardianship lawyers are here to help you determine whether a guardianship/conservatorship is appropriate and help you navigate the process. Our team is here to help.

What’s the difference between guardianship/conservatorship and medical/financial power of attorney?

Typically, powers of attorney are utilized to temporarily grant another person decision-making authority over your medical decisions, financial decisions, or both. It is important to designate a power of attorney who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to express your wishes, or to make necessary financial decisions during your incapacity or absence. If you or a loved one wish to create powers of attorney, our guardianship attorneys in Chandler are able to help create these vital legal instruments.

However, powers of attorney are not intended to grant full-time, permanent control over all medical or financial decision-making. If an individual will be permanently unable to make important life decisions, a guardian/conservator can be appointed to ensure their well-being.

Furthermore, a person must be legally competent to enter into a contract in order to create a power of attorney. If an individual who is incapacitated or legally incompetent had not previously created powers of attorney, or if their existing powers of attorney do not address a specific situation, a new power of attorney cannot legally be created, and a guardianship is the only way to legally gain control of their medical and financial decisions.

Who may need a guardianship/conservatorship?

The majority of our guardianship/conservatorship clients are elderly with health issues that affect their mental acuity. However, people with special needs children (particularly as they approach 18 years of age, the point where they will legally be considered an adult and their parents will lose decision-making ability) or those who have suffered debilitating injuries that affect their abilities to care for themselves could also benefit from guardianship or conservatorship.

What is the process to apply for a guardianship/conservatorship?

Applications for guardianships/conservatorships are processed through the Probate Division of the county Superior Court. The application must outline the basis for the guardianship/conservatorship, provide notice to any interested parties who may have a legal interest in the matter, and include a medical evaluation demonstrating that the ward, or the person to be protected, is legally incapable of making decisions for him/herself. In emergency situations, a hearing may be granted before all of these steps are completed.

Once the application is submitted, an attorney is appointed to ensure that the ward’s rights are protected and that he/she has a voice in the process. An investigator may also be required to gather information that the judge needs to make a decision. Finally, a hearing is held where all interested parties have an opportunity to address the judge.

A guardianship/conservatorship application is a complex legal process, and every application has unique circumstances. However, it is a process that our Chandler guardianship lawyers have navigated successfully many times. If you have any questions related to the need for guardianship/conservatorship, please contact us today for a no-cost consultation.

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