If you’ve ever cared for elderly parents or grandparents, then you probably know that it’s common for challenges to arise along the way. In some cases, the aging process can result in impairments and disabilities that affect an individual’s capacity for decision-making.
Without support and guidance, some elderly adults may struggle to make choices about their finances, housing, or even medical care. That’s where guardianship comes in. An authority granted by the court, guardianship gives someone the legal power to make health-related decisions for a person who is incapacitated.
What Is a Court-Appointed Guardian?
A court-appointed guardian is someone with the authority to make decisions for an elderly individual. While conservators make decisions about an individual’s money and property, guardians typically deal with health and medical care. Additionally, guardians may make arrangements regarding the elderly individual’s housing, education, food, clothing, and social life.
Guardians are appointed to assist people who are deemed “incapacitated.” While some guardians make decisions for elderly loved ones, others help those who suffer from physical or mental illness, drug abuse, or another disability. The people guardians care for are generally known as wards.
It’s important to note that a guardian can’t make whatever decisions they want on behalf of the incapacitated person. Instead, guardians should make the decision the incapacitated person would have made if they had the capacity to do so. Moreover, a guardian should strive to meet the incapacitated person’s needs in the least restrictive way available to them.
Various individuals can serve as a guardian for an elderly person in Arizona. Most commonly, friends and family members fill the role of guardian. However, if an elderly person doesn’t have family members who are willing or able to fill this role, the judge can appoint a private fiduciary to serve as guardian.
Reason to Become a Guardian of an Elderly Friend or Relative
Wondering if your elderly loved one needs your support? Here are some indicators that a person in your life may be incapacitated:
- They struggle with medical and financial decision-making
- They can’t or won’t sign a Power of Attorney document
- They seem easily upset or aggressive
- They regularly drive their car despite getting lost or disoriented
- They spend money indiscriminately
- They require treatment in a mental health facility
- You don’t think they’re safe in their home
- You suspect another family member or acquaintance is taking advantage of them
How to Become a Guardian
Guardians are only appointed by will of the incapacitated person or by order of the court. The process of appointing a guardian begins when a petition of guardianship is filed. At that point, the court sets a date for a hearing.
Decisions are made based on written reports featuring a comprehensive assessment of the person in question, including their medical history and impairments. Additionally, the report should specify which tasks someone can complete on their own, with or without some direction. Finally, the document should list out the medications a person is taking, along with their dosages and effects.
To be a guardian in the state of Arizona, you must meet certain guidelines. The individual petitioning for guardianship will need to submit an affidavit saying they’ve never been convicted of a felony or removed as a guardian. Additionally, they must submit annual reports to the court detailing the ward’s health and state of mind.
Seek Legal Help With Your Guardianship Case
Watching a loved one struggle to make decisions can be painful. Fortunately, guardianship exists to protect elderly loved ones when they need it most. If you have questions about applying for guardianship or conservatorship, don’t hesitate to contact JacksonWhite Law for help.
Call our Guardianship and Conservatorship team at (480)467-4313 to discuss your case today.