In my previous blogs we discussed the importance of having a durable general and medical powers of attorney. This blog will focus on whether or not your parent is in need of a guardian and/or conservator. A guardian is in charge of the incapacitated person, also referred to as the Ward. A conservator is in charge of the incapacitated person’s finances. If mom and dad have their powers of attorney in place, a guardianship and conservatorship is not needed in most cases. However, there are times when the need for a guardian and conservator is unavoidable.

In most cases a power of attorney is sufficient to take care of your parents’ day to day needs but there may be a time when you are faced with placing your parents in an assisted living facility. This can be an extremely difficult and emotional time for the entire family. It is especially common when your parent is suffering from advanced Alzheimers or dementia. A number of home care facilities will require you to file for guardianship. In addition, if your parent becomes uncooperative or begins to revoke and create new powers of attorney, it can become confusing for everyone involved to determine who exactly has the power to make decisions on your parent’s behalf. Being appointed as guardian would eliminate this confusion.

A conservatorship may be required when parties, and in most cases siblings or other family members, begin to question the financial decisions of an agent. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a child to benefit indirectly or directly from their power as agent of their parent’s assets. Arizona law makes it clear that the assets of a vulnerable adult, not necessarily an incapacitated person, must be used for the sole purpose of the vulnerable adult. A conservatorship requires the agent to provide annual accounting to the courts so that there is no question that your parent’s assets are being utilized in accordance with the law. In addition, filing for conservatorship may avoid future litigation.

Later this year I will discuss in detail Arizona’s laws regarding the protection of vulnerable adults in our monthly newsletter. Until then please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Laura Morrison Trujillo