What is Guardianship
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship means acquiring the legal authority to make decisions on another individuals behalf. A “guardian” is the person designated by the court to make decisions for someone else. The individual over which the guardianship is granted (a child or an adult) is known as the “protected person.”

Why Might a Guardianship Be Needed?

Commonly, parents have the legal right for decision making for their children, and adults are legally able to make decisions for his or herself. Occasionally this isn’t possible, and another individual needs to intervene to take care of the child or the adult.

A guardianship might be required over a child if there isn’t a parent at hand to care for them.  A guardian over the child’s estate might be required when the child inherited assets (for example, jewelry or property).  This safeguards their assets until the child becomes an adult.

A guardianship might be required over an adult if the adult is incapacitated, meaning the person is incapable of taking care of themselves because of mental illness, mental inadequacy, disease, or mental incapacity.  There are several alternatives to guardianship that could work better than a guardianship that is court ordered.

Where to File for Guardianship

Guardianship cases are typically required to be filed in the county in which the intended protected person has been living over the past 6 months.  There are some deviations to this common rule.  Legal advice is highly suggested when choosing where to file for guardianship over an individual that hasn’t lived in Arizona for 6 months or more.  

Kinds of Guardianship

There are 3 different kinds of guardianship in Arizona:

  • Guardianship over a Person: the guardian has the responsibility for the livelihood and caring for, of the protected person. The guardian can make personal and medical decisions for the individual, comprising of healthcare decisions, decisions about where they are going to live, and if there are children involved, decisions in regard to schooling.
  • Guardianship over an Estate: this kind of guardianship enables the guardian to make financial decisions for the protected person. Court approval is usually required to expend or sell any of protected person’s assets, even after a guardianship is awarded.
  • Guardianship over both the Person and Estate: this kind of guardianship enables the guardian to make personal, medical, and financial decisions regarding the protected person.


Turning into a guardian over the estate doesn’t give the guardian the complete power to manage the protected person’s assets and capital. The guardian is required to get the court’s authorization before spending any of the protected person’s money or the sale of any of their property, and usually needs to put the protected person’s money in a “blocked account” where the money is inaccessible without a court order.

How Long Does a Guardianship Last?

Guardianships over adults lasts until the adult regains the capability to care for themselves, or until the adult dies.

Court ordered guardianships over children lasts until the child turns eighteen years of age. If the child won’t graduate from high school until the age of nineteen, the child and the guardian can petition that the guardianship lasts until the child graduates from high school or reaches nineteen, whichever comes first. The petition to continue the guardianship needs be requested at least 2 weeks prior to the child turning eighteen.

The guardian or any other family member can petition the court to end a guardianship at any given time if they believe the guardianship is no longer required.


  1. Interactive, P. (n.d.). Family Law Self-Help Center – Purpose and Types of a Guardianship. Retrieved November 10, 2020, from https://www.familylawselfhelpcenter.org/self-help/guardianship/overview/purpose-and-types-of-a-guardianship

Arizona Family Law

Naming guardians in your will can be part of your estate plan. You may think you’re too young or don’t have enough money to justify the expense, but if you have children, you have priceless assets. There are many considerations when naming guardians for your kids. However, the process doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

There’s nothing better than the peace of mind you will have knowing you’ve protected your family at a time when they need it most. Let us help. Schedule a consultation or contact Ogborne Law, PLC of Arizona today.

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