The Cochise County Public Fiduciary is the state mandated office established to serve as Guardian and/or Conservator for those persons who are in need of such services and for whom there is no one else who is willing or able to serve in such capacity. Once the Public Fiduciary has determined that a Guardianship/Conservatorship is necessary for a person’s well being and survival, a petition is made to the court. At that time, an attorney is appointed for the prospective client. A court investigator is also appointed to visit with the prospective client and makes an independent report to the court as to his/her findings in regard to the petition. Upon review of all the evidence, it is the Judge who makes the final decision as to the appointment of a Guardian/Conservator.
The Cochise County Public Fiduciary also investigates the need for a Probate action to handle estates for deceased persons and may be petitioned by the Court to administer a decedent's estate when there is no family member or friend willing to serve in that capacity.
Conservator: A Conservator may be appointed for someone who is determined by the court to be unable to manage his or her own finances or property. As a Conservator, the Public Fiduciary is not only responsible for managing all of a person’s finances or property, but to secure benefits for clients, as needed. The Conservator manages the assets of the person for his or her benefit under the court's supervision and must file with the court an annual accounting of all receipts and disbursements to receive the court's approval.
Guardian: A Guardian may be appointed for someone who is determined by the court to be incapacitated or unable to communicate responsible decisions, usually as a result of physical or mental illness or dementia. As a guardian, the Public Fiduciary is responsible for managing all aspects of a person’s life including personal and medical care. When a client has made his/her wishes known, it is the responsibility of the Public Fiduciary to see that those wishes are followed. When a client’s particular wishes are unknown, the Public Fiduciary is mandated to use “substituted judgment” to make decisions on behalf of clients that they would have made for themselves had they been able to do so. It is the obligation of the Public Fiduciary to act in the best interest of the client at all times.
Probate: A Personal Representative may be appointed to administer the estate of a person who died (a "decedent") where there is no one else named in a will or able to act on the decedent's behalf. As the administrator/personal representative of a decedent’s estate, the Public Fiduciary is required to inventory, collect and preserve the assets of an estate. The Public Fiduciary is responsible to make an accounting to the Court of the decedent’s assets; provide notice to creditors; pay any outstanding debts; find and distribute assets to any potential heirs. If there is a Will, the Public Fiduciary will administer the estate in accordance with the decedent’s wishes and consistent with Arizona law.
Yearly Reporting: Each year the Public Fiduciary is required to make a report to the Court for each client. In the case of a Conservatorship, an initial inventory is performed and presented to the court within 90 days of appointment. Every year after that, an accounting is made documenting all income and expenditures for that year. A report is also made to the court each year when a Guardian has been appointed.
Fees: The Public Fiduciary is authorized to make a claim to the court every year for the collection of fees. Fees will vary each year and for each client depending upon the amount of services provided. The Public Fiduciary only collects fees that are court-approved. Click Here to view our current fee schedule.
Referrals: If it is believed that a person in Cochise County may be in need of a Guardian or Conservator and there is no one else able or willing to serve in that capacity, the Cochise County Public Fiduciary’s Office can be contacted. The information will be kept confidential, and the referral will be investigated. Should it be deemed that a Guardian/Conservator is necessary for an incapacitated person or a person in need of financial protection, then a petition will be made to the court.
For more information, call 432-9660