If your loved one needs to be committed for inpatient mental health treatment in a locked facility, then you are looking at what’s called a “Guardian with Mental Health Powers”. This is a complicated process, and I strongly encourage you to get the help of an attorney. You will need to prove that your loved one is incapacitated as a result of a mental disorder and is likely to be in need of inpatient mental health care and treatment within the next 12 months. See A.R.S. Section 14-5312.01. This authority would allow the guardian to place the person to a “level one behavioral health facility” (aka, a locked mental health facility).
If the subject of mental health is new to you, please read up on it. It isn’t always easy to tell if someone has a mental health issue, or a physical one. (Here is an article about that subject.) In this country, we joke about people being “crazy” and are baffled by the number of homeless people. In truth, many people with mental illness want help. It isn’t fun to be seriously depressed or confused or addicted. And sometimes a family member or friend needs to step up to the plate and go to court to get permission to provide the help that is needed. This also isn’t fun. First, you will need to get a health care professional’s report stating the need for a guardianship with mental health powers. Then you will involve going to court. If you are the one trying to get appointed as guardian, a court investigator will call you or meet with you to make sure you are a responsible person. There will be a court appointed attorney whose job it is to protect his client (your loved one) and push back on your efforts. This is all part of the process. The purpose is to make it difficult to take someone’s legal rights away.
If you are appointed as a guardian with mental health powers, you are required to report annually, in writing, with respect to your ward’s residence, physical and mental health, whether there still is a need for a guardian, and your ward’s financial situation. Your report is due each year on the anniversary date of the Letters of Appointment.
You must be conscious at all times of the needs and best interests of your ward. If the circumstances that made a guardianship necessary should end, you are responsible for petitioning to terminate the guardianship and obtaining your discharge as guardian. Even if the guardianship should terminate by operation of law, you will not be discharged from your responsibilities until you have obtained an order from this Court discharging you.
If you have any questions, call us at 602-443-4888.