Guardianships: A legal process to help when someone close is impaired and unable to make decisions or communicate without assistance.

GuardianshipArizona has a law, Arizona Revised Statute § 14-5101, that helps define when guardianship may be sought through the courts for an impaired adult, effectively “incapacitated.” An adult may be considered incapacitated due to mental or physical impairment caused by a disease or drug addiction. As a result, the person cannot communicate or understand to make decisions that affect them directly. It may be a short-term situation, or the person may only be partially impaired and need help to make the decision but does not necessarily need another person appointed to make the decision. 

The court’s objective in considering guardianship is to limit the powers of the guardianship to help the potential “ward” (the legal term for a person needing a guardian appointed) and not give authority to a guardian that is unnecessary. 

Arizona Revised Statute §14-5312 dictates a guardian’s duties and protections. A “general guardian” could be appointed to make care, comfort, and maintenance decisions.  However, specific authority to make decisions needs to be in the order of appointing the Guardian to provide clarity so that others, such as financial institutions and health care providers, will follow the guardian’s authority and instruction to others. 

The appointment of a guardian can limit the ward’s ability to drive or even vote, so an order of appointment of the guardian should consider preserving these rights. 

A guardian should not restrict the incapacitated person unnecessarily and should seek to accommodate the wishes of the incapacitated adult. A court will monitor the guardianship by obligating the guardian to file a report at least annually, but the court may waive that. 

Guardianship of adults and minors can be complicated for a non-professional, so it is best to find someone experienced with assisting others in navigating this legal process.  

Your local attorney association may provide resources and referrals to attorneys that can help at a discounted or flat rate. Here in Pima County, the Pima County Bar Association has been for several years providing seminars, according to their website; the next one is September 21, 2023. The seminar requires registration. They also offer, for $20, guardianship legal form packets with instructions.  The Pima County Superior Court’s website also has Guardianship forms at: 

The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; all information is for general informational purposes only. This information may not constitute the most up-to-date information. The links provided are only for the convenience of the reader, A. Ferraris Law, PLLC, and its members do not endorse the contents of the third-party references. 

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