Superior Court >Probate And Mental Health

Frequently Asked Questions

PROCEDURAL FAQs

What is a Pro Per? A Pro Per is a person who represents oneself in a court of law. What is a Court Appointed Attorney? A Court Appointed Attorney is an attorney who is appointed by the court to represent an incapacitated person's requests during Guardianship/Conservatorship proceedings. Does everyone need a Court Appointed Attorney? It is essential for every incapacitated person to have an attorney as representation. If an incapacitated person currently uses an attorney for legal matters, the incapacitated person can have that attorney appointed as their Court Appointed Attorney.

If the incapacitated person does not have an attorney, an attorney will be appointed.
How does the Court Appointed Attorney become appointed? The petitioner (if Pro Per) or the petitioner's attorney is responsible for contacting the Office of Court Appointed Counsel to have an attorney appointed. The phone number for the Office of Court Appointed Counsel is 602-506-7437. How do I find out more information about the Comprehensive Mental Health Court and how it collaborates with other service providers? Refer to GAINS for an overview of the CMHC How can I find out about the behavioral health provider in the State of Arizona and what they can provide for me or a family member? Contact Arizona Department of Behavioral Health Where do I get information about involuntary evaluations for treatment? RCC 9
Emergent vs. non-emergent petitions
How can I find out if a defendant is in custody or not? Maricopa County Sheriff's Office MCSO - TECHNO COPS
AZ Department of Corrections DOC - Inmate Datasearch

ACCOUNTING FAQs

Is there a fee for filing an accounting? Yes, a $300.00 account review filing fee is due at time of filing. Where can I find frequently used accounting forms? Visit the Maricopa County Superior Court website at: http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/SuperiorCourt/LawLibraryResourceCenter/Forms/ProbateCases/index.asp

and the Arizona Supreme Court site at: http://www.azcourts.gov/probate/ProbateForms.aspx
How do I know what my first account period should be (Filed on Form 6)? By rule, the first account period is from the date of issuance of Letters (temporary or permanent) to the end of the ninth month after the issuance of the permanent Letters. For example, if appointed temporary conservator on 01/01/2010 and appointed permanent conservator on 03/01/2010, the first account period would be from 01/01/2010 (Letters issued) through 12/31/2010 (9th month AFTER permanent appointment). Review the Court's minute entry issued on the Petition to Appoint Conservator to see if the Court otherwise ordered a different account period. What will be my subsequent account period (Filed on Form 7)? After the first account period has been approved by the Court, the subsequent account period start date will be the day after the approved end date of the prior account period. The end date of the subsequent account period will be the day before the start date, 1-year later. For example, start date is 02/01/2010 and end date is 01/31/2011. What is the Account period and due date for the last Account (Filed on Form 8)? The Account period begins on the next date after the last date of the immediately prior Account and ends on the date of death of the Protected Person or the date on which the Conservatorship is otherwise terminated.

The Account is due 90 days after the end of the Account period.
What do I need to provide when I file an accounting? When you file an accounting at the filing counter, the packet should contain the Petition for Approval of the Accounting, Conservator Account Form, itemized transaction log, fiduciary and attorney fee statements, and the proposed form of Order. At the same time of filing, a duplicate copy of the aforementioned documents, along with the financial account statements, should be provided to the Court Accountant's office. Do not provide a copy of the accounting to the judicial officer at this time.

The Account should include bank or financial institution statements that include the ending date of the Account and support the ending cash and investment account balances found in Schedule 2 of the Account. If there are reconciling items between the bank account statement and the balance shown in the Account, the Petitioner should reconcile the balance in the statement to the balance in the Account (ARPP 30 B 1). The Account should also include support for large transactions (especially those specifically approved by the Court). This might include, for example, a closing statement associated with the sale of a parcel of real estate owned by the Estate.
I received a Court Account's Report and Recommendation that requires a response. What do I do? Read each point of concern and the related recommendation by the Court Accountant. Do your best to provide the recommended response to each of the concerns within the timeframe. File an original response at the filing counter, and provide a complete copy of the response for the Court Accountant's office. When can I file for termination of the Conservatorship? You can file for termination of the Conservatorship at any time. The Court may continue your responsibilities until a successor is found or until it determines that the Conservatorship is no longer needed. The Court will determine that a Conservatorship is no longer needed when there are no or very limited assets remaining in the Estate (e.g., if the Protected Person should qualify for ALTCS which requires that assets be limited to less than $2,000). How do I qualify to use the Simplified Form 9? Before you can use the Simplified Form 9, YOU MUST GET APPROVAL OF THE COURT. This format will generally be approved when income and expenses are recurring and easy to understand (e.g., an Estate that involves primarily the collection of monthly retirement income and payment of a monthly care facility bill and for which assets are relatively limited). You must apply to get permission to use this form before you use it for the first time, unless the Court permits it in an Order that it issues without Petition from the Conservator. What do I do if I have a change in budget during the year? You are required to file an amended budget if the change in any line items is greater than $2,000 or more than 10% of a budgeted line item. A form for filing an amended budget is found at: Amended Budget form. Can I speak with the Court Accountant? Unfortunately, the Court Accountants are barred from talking with any Conservator about the facts of an individual case. You can file a request for clarification with the Court along with a copy to the Court Accountant. The Court Accountant will respond with a filed document that attempts to clarify concerns. Why is it important to Record my Letters of Appointment? The Court may require you to Record your Letters of Appointment because they contain certain restrictions on the Conservator that must be made public knowledge through what is known in the law as "constructive notice". Constructive notice is obtained legally by properly recording a document with the Maricopa County Recorder's Office.

Regardless of whether you are required to Record your Letters of Appointment or not, it is a good idea to do so. Doing so provides notice to creditors that the Protected Person cannot take on debt and that all dealings of the Estate must be performed by the Conservator. Since the Conservator is ultimately responsible for all that goes on in an Estate after their appointment, it is clear that this notice is critical. The Court has encountered instances where the Protected Person found a way to take out a mortgage on an inherited home (free and clear) without the knowledge of the Conservator. Since the Conservator did not approve the transaction, the Protected Person was not liable for funds that they were not able to repay from the funds received from the lender (funds already spent). If notice was not provided, the Conservator might be deemed to be liable for the actions of his/her Ward.

It is also helpful to consider freezing the Protected Person's credit with a credit reporting agency so that the Protected Person, or an individual who might choose to inappropriately use their identity (identity theft), will not be able to readily do so. Inappropriate transactions initiated by the Protected Person and identity theft can cause significant issues in an Estate and may result in undue work for the Conservator.

FORMAL AND INFORMAL PROBATE FAQs

What is the difference between Formal and Informal Probate? With a Formal Probate, a petition is filed and a hearing is set with a Judicial Officer. However, with an Informal Probate, an application is filed and reviewed/approved by a Registrar. Should I choose a formal probate filing or an informal probate filing? That would depend on if you qualify to file an Informal. The main reasons to file a formal would be if you only had a copy of the Will, if you knew it was going to be contested, or if you want an Adjudication of Heirs. What if I know someone wants to contest a will, which can or should I use? We do not have forms or instructions for this. We would refer you to an attorney, paralegal, document preparer or to the Law Library to look through the Probate Practice Manual. What typically happens in a formal probate proceeding? You would have to ask the Judicial Officer. What typically happens in an informal probate proceeding? All paperwork is submitted to the file counter clerk. The Registrar will review the paperwork within 72 hours and either approve or reject your paperwork. If approved, the file counter clerk will then issue a case number and finish processing the documents. If rejected, a reject slip explaining all deficiencies will be attached to the paperwork. Do I need to file a probate? That would be your decision based on what is in the estate and how it is titled up. Arizona does not require all estates to be probated, so it would depend on what the decedent owned in his/her name solely on whether a probate is necessary or not. How do I know if I do an Affidavit or Informal Probate? That would be your decision based on what is in the estate. Once you know what is in the estate that needs probate, look to see if you qualify for the small estate/Affidavit process or if you need to do the Informal appointment. Do you hold Wills for Safekeeping? No, we only take Wills that are being probated. If you have a Will that does not need to be probated, we advise the customer to place it in a safe place just in case it is needed at a later date.

GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP FAQs

What happens to a minor guardianship when they turn 18? We generally administratively close it upon the minor reaching majority. What happens when/if the ward dies? The guardian/conservator will need to file a Notice of Death with the Court. What warrants the appointment of a temporary guardian? When a Temporary Petition is filed (also known as an Emergency Petition, the assigned Judicial Officer makes the determination if they accept the Petition as a temporary. When can I file for termination of a guardianship? A Termination of a Guardianship can be filed when the ward is deceased, when a doctor states the ward is no longer incapacitated or by the court once a petition is file. What is the difference between a temporary guardianship and a permanent guardianship? The Temporary Guardianship is a request for an emergency expedited process with an eventual expiration date, in comparison to the Permanent Guardianship process which does not have an expiring date. In some cases, a Temporary Guardianship can also be used as a bridge between the Temporary Guardianship and until the Permanent Guardianship is assigned.
click here for Law Library Resource Center
National Center for State Courts - Report on Probate Court Improvements
Probate Case Management Protocol. Click to view PDF
How-to videos
Probate Fundamentals
National Probate Standards