A fiduciary is someone who accepts the responsibility of taking care of the needs or property of another person for the benefit of that person. The fiduciary serves in a role of trust. Fiduciaries serve by court-appointment as guardians, conservators or personal representatives of estates. The also serve by agreement as trustees, representative payees for Social Security income or other income benefit plans, or as agents under powers of attorney.
In each county a public fiduciary is appointed by that county’s board of supervisors and must be certified by the Arizona Supreme Court Fiduciary Certification Program. The public fiduciary may be appointed by the court to serve as guardian, conservator or personal representative of an estate when there is no one else willing or able to serve.
A private fiduciary is a non-family member who serves professionally, that is, for a fee, and who must be certified by the Arizona Supreme Court Fiduciary Certification Program. The private fiduciary may be appointed by the court to serve as guardian, conservator or personal representative of an estate when the fiduciary is not a beneficiary of that estate. Private fiduciaries may also serve by agreement as trustees, representative payees or as agents under powers of attorney.
A guardian is appointed by the probate court to ensure that the personal and medical needs of an incapacitated person are met.
A conservator is appointed by the probate court to manage the financial affairs of someone who is determined by the court to be unable to manage his or her own finances and property.
A person is determined by the court to be incapacitated when he or she lacks sufficient understanding or “capacity” to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his or her daily living needs.
Arizona Revised Statutes §14-5101(1) defines incapacity as “any person who is impaired by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, mental disorder, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication or other cause, except minority, to the extent that he lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his person.”
This determination is made by the court in conjunction with a statement from a qualified physician.
A person is a person who is eighteen years of age or older who is unable to protect himself or herself from abuse, neglect or exploitation by other because of a physical or mental impairment.