Probate and Mental Health
The Probate and Mental Health Department deals directly with the everyday personal and financial matters of Maricopa County citizens. In recent years, the department has made significant strides and improvements in its quality, efficiency and monitoring capabilities to better serve and protect people unable to care for themselves, including the elderly, minors, mentally ill and wards of the court.
Judges and commissioners assigned to the Probate/Mental Health Department oversee more than $300 million in conservatorship assets each year. With the help of several probate registrars, these judicial officers are also responsible for disposition of 8,000 new probate and mental health matters filed each year in Maricopa County.
At any given time, there are more than 25,000 pending probate cases of all kinds in the county. Although the term "probate" refers only to establishment of the validity of a will, the judges and court commissioners assigned to the Probate Department are responsible for a broad variety of matters in addition to decedents' estates. While most of the new probate cases filed involve decedents' estates, the vast majority are resolved informally without the involvement of a judge or court commissioner. However, the judicial officer gets involved when there is a dispute in the case.
Mental Health Department
Mental Health Civil Commitment cases pursuant to Title 36 occur at Desert Vista Behavioral Health Center and Arizona State Hospital (ASH). These proceedings include Court ordered evaluation (COE) hearings, Court ordered treatment (COT) hearings, and status review hearings on all COT cases. Additional proceedings at the ASH include Guilty Except for Insanity (GEI) hearings under the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB).
Guardianship and Conservatorship
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.
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