Guardianship Lawyers in Phoenix
Guardianship of a Physically or Mentally Disabled Person
Are you seeking the assistance of a lawyer in order to pursue guardianship over a child, disabled person, or adult unable to make decisions on their own? If so, you should consult with the lawyers of Kamper & Estrada, PLLC. For decades, we have helped clients find the right solutions to their family needs. Regardless of how complex you believe your circumstances to be, we are ready to listen to your situation and provide you with well thought-out advice.
For a consultation with Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, call us at (602) 663-9952.
What is Guardianship?
As a skilled lawyer will tell you, guardianship is a legal tool which enables a person, or in some cases an entity, to make decisions for another individual (also known as a ward). Every state has its own guardianship laws, which is why it is important to get advice from a lawyer familiar with the laws of Arizona.
It will be up to the court to establish guardianship. In general, a guardian must be appointed for any person who is:
- A minor;
- Disabled; or
- Unable to make decisions on their own.
An exception to this might be when a person has a durable power of attorney and medical directives in place.
Depending on what the court orders, a guardian could be able to make financial, medical, and personal life decisions for a ward. It can help to ask a lawyer for recommendations about your unique situation.
For any number of reasons, there may come a time when an individual is unable to make certain decisions on their own behalf. Legally, most minors cannot make legally-binding decisions, so their parents or guardians make these decisions for them. Similarly, when an adult becomes too physically and/or mentally incapacitated to make important legal and/or practical decisions, a guardian may be appointed by the courts in order to ensure that someone may be held responsible for making these decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. Under certain circumstances, an adult whose judgment has become significantly compromised may also benefit from a guardianship arrangement.
Guardianship of Children
Under the law, a child’s biological or adoptive parents are generally granted the right to make legal, practical, medical, and financial decisions on behalf of their minor children. However, there are times when a parent’s death or termination of parental rights necessitate that a child be appointed a guardian. It is worth noting that a child’s parents generally must pass away, be deemed unfit, or voluntarily surrender their parental rights before a non-parent may be appointed as a guardian. The notable exception to this general rule involves temporary guardianship arrangements drawn up in the event that a parent cannot take care of a child (or make sound decisions on that child’s behalf) for a limited period of time.
Guardianship of children tends to function somewhat differently than the process does for elderly adults, incapacitated adults, and adults whose judgment is compromised. As a result, it is important to speak with a lawyer if you have questions about granting or assuming guardianship of a child before committing to a specific plan of action.
Thinking About Conservatorships
If you are concerned with the legal realities of guardianships, you may have come across the term “conservatorship” in your initial research. In some states, the word guardianship and the word conservatorship refer to the same legal process and set of responsibilities. However, other states treat guardianship arrangements and conservatorship arrangements differently. When treated differently, guardians are usually tasked with making practical and medical decisions, whereas conservators are tasked with making financial decisions. If you have questions about a situation where it may make sense to distinguish between a guardian and conservator, please speak with a lawyer about your concerns in order to be properly advised of your options.
Petitioning Guardianship for a Disabled Person
Various mental or physical disabilities can involve serious, lifelong conditions that impose extreme limitations on a person’s ability to care for themselves, make a living, and live independently of others. An experienced lawyer will often encounter such people needing certain services and treatments that are vital to their lives.
That said, nowadays, guardianships over people who are physically or mentally disabled are meant to facilitate independence. A judge may limit the guardianship as much as possible so that the ward maintains some control over their life—or as much control as is reasonable. The judge might also consider the ward’s wishes in their decision.
The Role of a Guardian
When it comes to the role of a guardian over a physically or mentally disabled person, a judge will typically take time to assess the situation in order to determine what the ward cannot accomplish independently of another person.
Per the judge’s findings, the guardian may be granted the ability to:
- Make financial decisions;
- Make medical decisions;
- Make personal life decisions;
- Assure maintenance of care for the ward;
- Ensure medical services are adequate; or
- Ensure educational needs are met.
In addition to the aforementioned, the guardian may be required to provide updates to the court. These should describe:
- The ward’s mental and physical state of health based upon official records and recent exams;
- Their living situation;
- Services in which the ward takes part;
- Services that the guardian renders; and
- Any monetary assets belonging to the ward.
A guardian for a mentally or physically disabled person is not a caretaker; rather, they are a decision-maker. This is typically the extent of the duties involved. A lawyer can explain this role in further detail during a consultation.
Being Appointed as a Guardian
The qualifications to become a guardian vary by state, but in general, one must:
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Have no felony convictions;
- Have no misdemeanors that imply any form of dishonesty; or
- Be incapacitated.
The wishes of the ward might also be taken into consideration. If this is not possible, the court will determine whether or not any legal documents state their wishes. If this is also not available, the court might first seek to appoint close relatives such as a parent, spouse, adult child, or sibling.
Guardianship Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about guardianship, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with a lawyer. The guardianship process can be uniquely stressful for a host of reasons, so it is generally a good idea to seek experienced legal guidance and support as early on in the process as you possibly can. That way, you can make healthy, legally informed decisions at every point that it is possible to do so. Whether you have questions about potential guardianship needs down the road or you are already entangled in a legal dispute related to guardianship, you can almost certainly benefit from legal guidance at this time.
How a Lawyer Can Help You
Whether you are seeking guardianship of a mentally or physically disabled person, or to create a durable power of attorney and will that names a guardian for you in the case of your own incapacitation, know that we can help. Our firm is skilled in this area of the law and can answer any additional questions you may have.
Call (602) 663-9952 today to schedule a consultation with a lawyer from Kamper & Estrada, PLLC.