Fiduciary Management Specialists
Process of Appointments

The process of appointing a Guardian or Conservator.

The process of appointing a fiduciary as a guardian or conservator may be initiated by anyone who believes an individual may need assistance with his or her activities of daily living and/or finances. That person may begin by contacting the family’s attorney or a fiduciary of their choice. The fiduciary will investigate the situation and, if there appears to be a demonstrated need and there is no other alternative, the fiduciary will retain an attorney to petition the probate court for appointment as guardian or conservator.  Once the petition for appointment is filed with the probate court, the court appoints an attorney to represent the alleged incapacitated person. A court-appointed examiner (physician, psychologist or registered nurse) will examine the alleged incapacitated person and report his or her findings to the court. A court investigator is also appointed by the court to investigate whether there is a need for a guardian and/or conservator and to recommend a suitable person to serve in those roles.  A court hearing is held to consider all the necessary and relevant information. The court decides whether the person is incapacitated or in need of protection and, accordingly, appoints a guardian, conservator or both.  There are costs involved in petitioning the court and in the investigative process. If the court appoints a guardian or conservator, these costs are usually paid by the incapacitated person’s estate. 

The process of appointing a Personal Representative

A will typically names a personal representative. Individuals, private fiduciaries or banks may be named. The party named may petition the probate court for informal or formal appointment depending upon the complexity of the estate. An attorney usually assists in this process. If the will is “proved,” that is, accepted by the court as valid, then the party named is appointed. However, if the will is challenged, a hearing is held and the court will decide whether the will is valid and who will serve as personal representative. If a person dies without a will, state law provides a list of parties who are eligible to serve as personal representative. A private fiduciary is appointed when those eligible are not available or do not wish to serve as personal representative. At various stages during the probate process the personal representative must report to the heirs and beneficiaries about the administration of the estate. In certain cases the personal representative is required to report to the court and obtain its approval to settle the estate.

Why choose a professional fiduciary?


In Arizona professional fiduciaries must be certified with the Arizona Supreme Court in order to be eligible for appointment by a probate court as a guardian, conservator or personal representative.  State law requires that to become certified, fiduciaries must meet certain eligibility requirements, take initial training, pass a test, post a bond, furnish a set of fingerprints and pass a criminal background check.  Certification must be renewed every two years. 


If you wish to choose a private fiduciary, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney.  You may also want to seek the advise of other professionals who specialize in probate and estate planning, tax accountants and banking representatives.  Finally, it is most important when you need a fiduciary, that you choose one with whom you can maintain a long-term trusting relationship.