Superior Court >Probate And Mental Health

Probate/Mental Health Case Types

FORMAL & INFORMAL PROBATE

Informal probate is for those estates where the will is uncontested. This method rarely involves the court. If there is a dispute between the heirs, then it may be necessary to proceed with a formal probate.

Formal probate is when the requirements of informal probate are not satisfied and the court is needed to resolve any disputes. Arizona law requires the use of formal probate when there are issues related to the validity of a testator's will (ARS § 14-3401).

EMERGENCY PROCESS FOR AN ADULT AND MINOR

The Court appoints a guardian and/or conservator on a temporary or emergency basis for a period of not more than 6 months if there is a need to have a guardian and/or conservator temporarily and/or immediately.

ADULT ADOPTIONS

You may submit a petition to adopt an adult if:
  • You, or the person you are asking to adopt, are a resident of the county where you are filing this request.
  • You want to ask the Court to adopt either another adult person who is at least 18 years of age and not more than 21 years of age; OR
  • You want to ask the Court to adopt an adult person who is your stepchild, niece, nephew, cousin or grandchild; OR
  • You are a foster parent, and want to ask the Court to adopt an adult person who was placed in your care as a juvenile, and you have maintained a familial relationship with that person for five or more years, AND
  • The adult you are asking to adopt consents to the adoption, AND
  • (If applicable) The spouse of the Adopter and/or Adoptee consent to the adoption, AND
  • (If applicable) You understand that any name change that results from this adoption will neither harm your rights nor release you from any obligations or liabilities incurrent from your current name.

GUARDIANS & CONSERVATORS

A guardian is someone who has the legal authority to care for another. A conservator is someone who manages another's financial affairs. To qualify for a guardian and/or conservator, an adult person must be "incapacitated", which the Court refers to as a ward. Therefore, he/she must lack sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning oneself or finances.

Reasons for a Guardianship and Conservatorship
  • Mental Illness
  • Mental deficiency
  • Mental disorder
  • Physical illness or disability
  • Chronic use of drugs
  • Chronic intoxication or other cause

ADULT GUARDIANSHIPS

A guardian may be appointed for an adult either by will or by court appointment. Upon finding that an individual lacks capacity, the Court appoints a competent person (guardian) to make decisions on behalf of the individual (ward). The guardian becomes the substitute decision-maker for the ward in any or all areas that the ward lacks capacity. A guardianship deprives a person of his/her civil rights; therefore, the Court must find that no lesser restrictive alternative exists.

ADULT CONSERVATORSHIPS

Several individuals can serve as a conservator for an adult. Conservators of adults typically include a family member, a friend, a private conservator, or the Maricopa County Public Fiduciary. Individuals usually file for conservatorships because a person is unable to manage estate and affairs due to illness, deficiency, an accident, or Alzheimer.

MINOR CONSERVATORSHIPS

Typically, the petition to appoint a conservator for a minor includes:
  • A personal injury settlement
  • A parent as the conservator
  • A restricted account
  • A proof of restricted account filed
  • No withdrawals of funds without court order
  • A petition to terminate conservatorship at the age of 18
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National Center for State Courts - Report on Probate Court Improvements
Probate Case Management Protocol. Click to view PDF
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