Professional Fiduciary Services
Guardianship and Conservatorship – The Basics
Arizona’s law permits the Superior Court to appoint a guardian or conservator for an adult who, after an appropriate hearing, is adjudicated incapacitated by clear and convincing evidence.
1. The evidence usually consists of a doctor’s diagnosis of a degenerative mental or physical disease and recommendation that a guardian and/or conservator be appointed, as well as the testimony of others familiar with the proposed incapacitated person.
2. Notice of the hearing is generally required for the proposed incapacitated person and close relatives or interested parties that are known to the petitioner.
3. An attorney is appointed to represent the incapacitated person at the hearing.
4. The relationship and authority of a court appointed guardian and/or conservator to the incapacitated adult is like that of a parent to a minor child.
The guardian manages the medical, social, and day-to-day living arrangements of the incapacitated person. The conservator manages the person’s financial affairs, paying bills, dealing with vehicles and real/personal property, and will analyze financial needs over time and invest any funds not needed for immediate living expenses.
The Arizona Superior Court oversees the guardians and conservators to ensure:
1. The guardian is meeting the incapacitated person’s needs in the least restrictive environment possible and with due consideration to the person’s preferences.
2. The conservator is prudently managing the incapacitated person’s money and other assets.
3. Fees and costs for the fiduciary and/or their attorney are both reasonable and necessary, as well as comparable to the fees of other fiduciaries/attorneys in the area.
Personal Representative (Executor of a Decedent’s Estate)
In Arizona, a Licensed Fiduciary may be appointed as Personal Representative (also known as an Executor) by the court to administer the estate of decedents whose nominated personal representative is unable or unwilling to serve, where there is no Last Will and Testament or where there is a disagreement between the beneficiaries and an estate is significant enough for court intervention.
The Arizona Superior Court is sometimes called upon to appoint a disinterested third-party trustee to administer a contested trust, a decedent’s trust, a special needs trust, or the trust of an incapacitated person whose nominated successor Trustee is unwilling or unable to serve. A licensed fiduciary may serve in any of these roles. Additionally, under certain circumstances, Coventry, Vernon, & Roberts, LLC is willing to act as trustee upon nomination by the grantor.
Accounting for Family Conservators and Trustees
There are by far more family members appointed by the court as conservators than there are licensed fiduciaries filling that role. Often the family member is well qualified to manage the income and expenses of their loved one but has difficulty meeting the stringent financial reporting requirements of the court. Coventry, Vernon, & Roberts, LLC can prepare an accounting for the family conservator, which meets Arizona Superior Court requirements.
Similarly, family members acting as trustees are often under an obligation to provide annual accountings to the beneficiaries of a trust. In many cases, Coventry, Vernon, & Roberts, LLC can prepare these accountings also.
It is both gratifying and humbling to be considered an expert by your peers, the attorneys who practice elder law/probate, and the judicial officers that hear our cases.
Over the years, Roger Coventry has been engaged to act in such a capacity for various purposes, including 1) fee disputes, 2) in support of forensic accounting and analysis, and 3) fiduciary standards of practice.
His background in financial exploitation investigations, and fiduciary practice administration, coupled with his master’s in business administration and juris doctorate degrees, provides the credentials that help parties develop compelling arguments.