The Office of the Public Fiduciary was established in 1974 by the Arizona State Legislature. A.R.S. Section 14-5601(A) requires each county board of supervisors to appoint a public fiduciary, and the cost incurred to conduct this office is charged against county government.
The public fiduciary is then appointed by the Superior Court for those persons or decedents’ estates in need of guardianship, conservatorship or administration and for whom there is no person or corporation qualified and willing to act in that capacity. As a guardian the Public Fiduciary ensures that the basic needs of an incapacitated person are met. These needs include, but are not limited to, personal, medical, psychiatric and housing.
The Public Fiduciary is appointed as conservator by the Court when the resident has an estate requiring management and the Court has determined that the person is unable to manage his or her own financial affairs. As court-appointed conservator the Public Fiduciary manages and conserves those assets for the benefit of the protected person. The Public Fiduciary is also appointed by the Court to administer a decedent’s estate when there is no family member or friend willing to serve in that capacity.
Annual accountings and guardianship reports are filed with the Court for approval. The Yavapai County Public Fiduciary handles primarily indigent cases when there are not sufficient funds with which to pay a private fiduciary. However, fees are taken when approved by the Court and there are sufficient funds in the estate of the ward or protected person to pay the fee or partial fee. The Yavapai County Public Fiduciary has an approved fixed fee schedule pursuant to an administrative order of the Superior Court. All support for the wards or protected persons come from their own estates. The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors has directed the Public Fiduciary not to compete with private fiduciaries whenever possible.