A ward of the state is usually a minor who has no parents and lives under protective custody of the state. In court, they’re appointed a legal guardian to uphold their best interests. These guardians are appointed by the judge to make life decisions for someone who is either mentally incapable or a minor.
Deranged adults who are drug and alcohol addicted and can’t help themselves can also be wards of the state. These individuals are considered “incapacitated persons” by the law, and are also called wards by the court.
Who Can be the Guardian of a Ward in Arizona?
Family members or friends can step up to be the guardian of a ward, but a judge will still access the qualifications of a volunteer guardian before they’re appointed.
If none of the ward’s family or friends willingly wants to be the guardian, the court may appoint a private guardian if the ward has enough money. If the ward doesn’t have an income, a guardian is provided by the Maricopa County Public Fiduciary.
The ward’s estate reimburses the guardian, unless the ward has no income, then the guardian is paid for by the state.
Guardians make decisions about their ward’s housing arrangements, education, social activities, medical care, and basically most if not all critical aspects of the ward’s life.
Being a guardian is no walk in the park, and sometimes a ward’s immediate family is not capable of taking on the responsibility. In fact, guardians are responsible for filing a report assessing the physical and mental condition of the ward each year with the Clerk of the Court.
If the judge determines, in a separate hearing, that the ward is “gravely disabled,” the guardian can have the ward admitted into a psychiatric hospital. Judges can also restrict the guardian’s authority if the ward has serious issues and needs.
Not much; wards cannot marry, vote, get a driver’s license, buy property, use a credit card, or take out a loan without their guardian. When it comes to real world decisions, wards are deemed incapable of making rational choices, so they’re legally unable to.
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