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Alternatives to Guardianship
Managing For Results
Statutes and Regulations
Terms and Definitions
Calendar of Events
Referral to Office
The Role of the Advocate
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What is the Office of the Public Fiduciary?
The Office of the Public Fiduciary was established by the 1974 legislature to serve as a "fiduciary of last resort" for individuals and decedents' estates in need of guardianship, conservatorship or public administration where there is no person or corporation qualified and willing to act in such capacity. Most of the clients of the Public Fiduciary's Office are indigent or have limited assets.
What steps should be taken before considering a referral to the Office of the Public Fiduciary?
All other possibilities for solution of the client's problems should be exhausted. This includes referral to other agencies for appropriate services.
Counseling with the client personally to mobilize resources or to help the client accept the services that are available. Often this step is sufficient; a client may accept difficult changes in his or her life if someone takes the time and effort to show that they care.
If the client appears genuinely unable to manage his/her affairs, encourage the family or close friends to accept responsibility for the client and become guardian and/or conservator if warranted.
What is expected of a person or agency after making the initial referral?
The referring person or agency must completely fill out the referral form and obtain a properly written report signed by a physician, certifying that guardianship or conservatorship is necessary. This information is required for assessment of the case and for appropriate follow-up should the Public Fiduciary be appointed. The Public Fiduciary will petition for appointment of a guardian or conservator only in those cases where there is a demonstrated need as defined by Arizona Statutes. Because one may meet the criteria for a guardianship or conservatorship does not necessarily mean that there is a demonstrated need for the creation of a guardianship or conservatorship or that a guardianship and/or conservatorship is the least restrictive measure that might be taken to meet the individual’s demonstrated needs and protect the person’s assets.
Is there a cost for service from the Office of the Public Fiduciary?
Yes, the Public Fiduciary has a claim against the estate of the ward, protected person, or decedent for reasonable expenses and fees incurred in the administration of the guardianship, conservatorship or decedent estate. A copy of the Court-approved Fee Schedule is attached hereto – please provide a link.
How is a referral made to the Office of the Public Fiduciary?
The Office of the Public Fiduciary offers a referral packet for those agencies and individuals who believe that the person proposed for guardianship/conservatorship meets the criteria. The referral packet is available on this website – please provide a link. An incomplete referral will be returned to the referring party.
Is a durable power of attorney for medical decisions the same as a guardian?
No; a guardian usually has more authority than an agent under a durable power of attorney. However, the proper use of a Durable Power of Attorney may prevent or delay the need for a guardian/conservator.
Can a relative or friend serve as guardian/conservator instead of the public fiduciary?
Yes, it is normative for family and/or friends to serve in this capacity. The Public Fiduciary is appointed only when there is no one else willing and capable of serving. There are also private fiduciaries that perform these services. Family and/or friends can obtain more information on how to apply as guardian/conservator by contacting the
Clerk of Superior Court, Self-Service Center
Can the Office of the Public Fiduciary be appointed if there are other family members?
The Office of the Public Fiduciary should be considered only as a last resort. When a person becomes physically or mentally incapacitated and needs a guardian or conservator, the responsibility of guardianship or conservatorship is most appropriately addressed by the family.
Does the referral of a client to the Office of the Public Fiduciary mean that the client now becomes the Office of the Public Fiduciary's responsibility?
No, the first task of the Office of the Public Fiduciary is to investigate whether a guardianship or conservatorship is necessary and whether legal standards for appointment can be met in Court. The Office of the Public Fiduciary is responsible only after appointment by a Court of competent jurisdiction.
Are Fiduciaries licensed?
Effective April 1, 1999, professional fiduciaries are not permitted to serve as a Fiduciary in the state of Arizona unless they are licensed by the Supreme Court. Licensure requirements include posting a bond, furnishing a full set of fingerprints and passing a criminal background check, taking 12 hours of initial training and passing an examination. Professional fiduciaries are required to maintain continuing education requirements. A list of professional fiduciaries that are currently registered with the Arizona Supreme Court may be obtained by writing: Private Fiduciary Program, Arizona Supreme Court, 1501 West Washington, Suite 410, Phoenix, AZ 85007-3231. All guardian and estate administrators in the Office of the Maricopa County Public Fiduciary are licensed or in training for licensure. Family members are not required to be registered with the Supreme Court in order to serve as a fiduciary for a family member.
How do I find out more about guardianships/conservatorships?
Guardianships/Conservatorships are legal creations. You may want to consult an attorney familiar with guardianships/conservatorships. Attorneys who practice in the probate area are particularly able to assist. To find an attorney suitable for consultation, contact Lawyer Referral Services at the Maricopa County Bar Association, http://maricopalawyers.org – please provide a link/ (602) 257 4434.
How do I find out more about the Indigent Burial Program?
The County Indigent Burial (CIB) Program is a creature of statute. It is designed to provide burial services for those individuals and their families who are truly indigent. For information on qualifying, contact the main office number, (602)506-5801 and ask for the Indigent Burial Department.
Calendar of Events
Arizona Guardianship Law and Practice
Arizona Adult Protective Services
Fiduciary Certification & Licensing Program - Arizona Supreme Court
Law for Seniors
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
National College of Probate Judges
National Guardianship Association
Self Service Center, Maricopa County, Arizona
Social Security Administration
Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona
The Arizona Fiduciaries Association
Other AZ County Public Fiduciaries:
La Paz County
Santa Cruz County
Security Center Building
222 North Central Avenue Suite 4100
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Hours: 8am to 5pm M-F except holidays
Phone: 602.506.5801 | Fax: 602.506.2495
After Hours: 602.506.5801 (Emergencies only)
Emergency afterhours calls are handled by staff
Paid parking is available on the south side of Van Buren Street between Central and First Avenue.
Maricopa County Public Fiduciary
Phone: 602.506.5801 | Fax: 602.506.2495