Establishing a guardianship can be a long and complex legal process. Unfortunately, transferring guardianship can be even more complicated. The transfer process is a little easier when both states have adopted the Uniform Probate Code (which Arizona has), but as less than half the states have accepted the full UPC that’s not always the case. If there are any significant differences between Arizona guardianships and guardianships in the state you’re coming from, the courts in Arizona will need to modify the guardianship agreement to conform with Arizona laws.
Following is an outline of how to transfer guardianship to Arizona based on the guidelines established by the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County:
1. Obtain a Provisional Order Authorizing Transfer to Arizona
The first item of business is to obtain a Provisional Order Authorizing Transfer to Arizona from the transferring state. In essence, this Order authorizes the guardian to petition for transfer of guardianship in Arizona. You’ll need to file the appropriate paperwork with the transferring court, pay their filing fee, and request a certified copy of the Order.
2. File a Petition in Arizona Court
To get the process moving in Arizona, you’ll need to submit a certified copy of the Provisional Order Authorizing Transfer to Arizona and your Letters of Appointment to the probate court in the county where you wish to transfer the guardianship case to. In addition to these Orders, you’ll need to submit the following forms:
- Probate Cover Sheet (form PB10f)
- Probate Information Sheet (form PB11f)
- Petition for Acceptance of Transfer (form PBTX11f)
- Affidavit of Person to be Appointed (form PBGC11f)
- Request for Hearing Date (form PBTX13f)
When you submit the forms and certified Orders to the appropriate county probate court in Arizona, you’ll be asked to pay a filing fee. Once the court accepts your paperwork, be sure to jot down your case number (it starts with the letters “PB”).
3. Schedule a Non-Appearance Hearing
Unless an interested party files an objection to your petition, the court will typically schedule a Non-Appearance Hearing (although the court may set an Appearance Hearing by its own motion if necessary). With a Non-Appearance Hearing, you’ll have a scheduled time where any interested party may appear before the court (including yourself), though nobody is required to attend the hearing.
To schedule the hearing, call the county probate calendar clerk 3 – 5 business days after filing. If you’d like to schedule a hearing during the 3 – 5 day waiting period, you’ll need to bring stamped copies of your probate forms to Probate Administration and schedule a hearing in person.
4. Ensure the Ward has an Attorney
If the ward does not have a personal attorney, the court can assign one to represent them. Call the Office of Public Defense Services, tell them your case number, and provide them with the ward’s name, address, phone number, and the time and date of the upcoming hearing. After that, you’ll need to complete and submit an Order Appointing Attorney (form PBTX14f) to the county probate court at least 30 days before the scheduled hearing date.
5. Serve Notice of the Petition for Acceptance of Transfer
The petitioner is required to serve notice of the Petition for Acceptance of Transfer to all interested parties in the transferring state and in Arizona. That includes:
- The ward
- The ward’s immediate family (spouse, parents, and adult children)
- The ward’s current guardian and/or conservator (if this individual is different than the petitioner)
- Any persons who have filed a Demand for Notice with the county probate court clerk
You’ll need to serve notice to all interested parties at least 14 days prior to the initial hearing. Acceptable service methods include certified mail, first class mail, and personal delivery. If the petitioner is unable to determine the address or identity of a known interested party to the case, he or she will be required to publish a notice in the local newspaper at least 3 times, with the first publication posting at least 14 days prior to the hearing.
6. File Proof of Notice
Once you have served notice to all of the case’s interested parties, you’ll need to file proof of notice with the clerk of the court. Failure to file proof of notice before the initial hearing will likely result in your hearing being cancelled and rescheduled.
7. Obtain a Provisional Order Granting the Acceptance of Transfer
Assuming the initial hearing ends in your favor, the court will issue a Provisional Order granting the Petition to Accept Transfer. This Provisional Order formally appoints the proposed guardian unless an objection is made where the objector establishes that the transfer would not be in the ward’s best interests, or the proposed guardian isn’t eligible for appointment in Arizona.
8. File Arizona’s Provisional Orders with the Transferring State
Don’t make the common mistake of assuming that the Provisional Order is the last step. The court with original jurisdiction over the guardianship must enter a final Order to transfer the guardianship to Arizona and close the case in their state, so you’ll need to submit a certified copy of the Provisional Order Accepting Transfer and the Provisional Order Appointing the Guardian to the transferring court along with any paperwork and filing fees required.
9. File the Sending State’s Final Order in Arizona
Once the transferring court issues a final Order to Transfer Guardianship, submit a certified copy of the final Order to the court clerk in Arizona. The clerk will provide you with a form to request that the Arizona court enter a Final Order Accepting Transfer of Guardianship and a Final Order Appointing a Permanent Guardian. The court should issue the final Orders within 90 days, unless the court determines that the guardianship needs to be modified to conform with Arizona guardianship laws.
10. File the Annual Report
Just as you were expected to submit annual accounting reports to the court in the transferring state, you’ll be required to do the same in Arizona. Your first annual accounting report is due on or before the one-year anniversary of the date that the Arizona court issued the Provisional Letters of Appointment (not the Final Order of Appointment).