DEFINITIONS:

Conservator is a person who conserves the assets of another.

Ward Ward is a person who is served by a Guardian or a Conservator. is a person who is served by a Guardian or a Conservator.

Protected Person is a person who is legally in need of a conservator.

Agent is a person appointed under a Power of Attorney.

Does every person who fits the legal definition of a protected person need a conservatorship?

No, not if they have provided for the effective management of their assets and investments through a trust or a Durable Financial Power of Attorney.

A.R.S. Section 14-5311 says that any qualified person may be appointed, but establishes a hierarchy of those who have priority for appointment. The nominee of an incapacitated person has a higher priority than a person&'s spouse. What if the nomination took place long before they were married?

Is the guardian or conservator personally financially responsible for the ward?

A guardian is not vicariously liable for the acts of his ward. But a guardian is personally exposed if he is negligent in his supervision of the ward, if the ward injures himself or a third person.

A conservator does NOT become financially responsible for his ward by virtue of becoming conservator.

What are the general powers and duties of a conservator?

  • File an inventory of the ward&'s property within 90 days.
  • Account at least annually.
  • Protect assets, investing assets according to the Prudent Investor Rule.
  • AVOID SELF-DEALING AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Can a ward under a conservatorship bind himself to contracts or debts or transfer his own property?

When the court imposes a guardianship or a conservatorship, it does not necessarily make a finding that the ward is "incompetent". If it made such a finding, the ward could probably still make contracts to get for himself the necessities of life, if he was otherwise able to make and understand such contracts. Contracts for non-necessities would probably be void.

It is a very good idea for all conservators to record a copy of their letters of conservatorship with the county recorder. Under A.R.S. Section 14-5421, this will have the effect of transferring title to all of the ward&'s property to the conservator so that the ward can no longer transfer the property himself.

If the ward is married and the spouse is the conservator, how does the court treat the finances?

The spouse will probably be required to file a bond.

The court may waive interim annual accountings.

The spouse will have to file a final account.

Describe the process of appointing a Guardian or a Conservator.

  • Petition for appointment of Guardian or Conservator or both
  • Petition for Appointment of Attorney, Physician and Visitor
  • Notify Attorney, Physician and Visitor that they have been appointed.
  • Notify relatives of the pendency of the action.
  • Schedule the hearing on Guardianship or Conservatorship
  • Obtain physicians report in Guardianship case and distribute it.
  • Apply for appropriate bond in a conservatorship case.
  • If the case is not contested, prepare an order for the Judge to sign and present evidence at the non-contested evidentiary hearing.
  • Once the order is signed, file your bond and get the Clerk of the Court to issue "Letters"
  • File a conservatorship inventory and a budget

How do you get one appointed "Yesterday".

There is a process for appointing a Guardian or Conservator in the case of a real emergency. It can take place within 24 to 48 hours. The emergency must generally constitute a clear and present threat to the Ward&'s health or an immediate threat that his finances will be wasted or dissipated unless a Guardian or Conservator is appointed.

How does a guardianship or conservatorship end?

The death of the ward automatically terminates the guardianship or conservatorship. The conservator&'s authority to act as conservator can be converted into an authority to act as Personal Representative of the ward&'s estate if proper application is filed with the court

The ward or any other interested person may apply to terminate the guardianship or to replace the guardian or conservator. At the conclusion of the conservatorship, the conservator will ordinarily be required to file a final account which must be approved by a judge.

Who ultimately pays for the establishment of the conservatorship?

Once the conservatorship is successfully established, the Conservator, subject to Court approval, can reimburse himself the reasonable cost of attorney's fees and administrative expenses from the estate of the Ward.