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What factors will a court use when choosing a guardian?

In Arizona, a person can petition a court to create a guardianship or conservatorship over the personal affairs or finances, respectively. However, this does not mean that the person asking for the court to do this will get to be the guardian or conservator, as whether a guardianship is necessary and who will be the court appointed guardian are two separate questions.

The court considers certain factors when deciding who will act as a person's guardian or conservator, and these factors create priorities among those who might wish to be a guardian or conservator. While this post offers general information about these factors, specific questions should be referred to an attorney.

Basically, if the person who is going to need a guardian can coherently and at least somewhat reliably state who he or she wants to act as guardian or conservator, those wishes will be respected. Failing that, the court will likely look to wills, prior powers of attorney and other key documents which tend to establish who the incapacitated person trusted and would likely want to be the guardian or conservator. If this approach does not identify a guardian, then the court will likely appoint a spouse, a child or another close family member.

When considering a prospective guardian, a court is going to want to make sure the person who has been nominated receives real and serious consideration and is qualified to act as a guardian. For this reason, the court may ask about criminal records and other documentation.

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