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  • Public Fiduciary

    The Pima County Public Fiduciary serves as court-appointed Guardian, Conservator or Estate Administrator (Personal Representative) to protect the legal rights and financial interests of vulnerable adults and administer the estates of deceased persons when there is no one else willing or capable of serving.

    The Public Fiduciary also determines eligibility and provides cremation or burial for indigent persons.

    Each county in Arizona has a probate court, which is part of the state’s superior court system. The probate court appoints Guardians for incapacitated persons, Conservators for persons whose assets require protection, and Personal Representatives for the administration of decedents’ estates.

    The Public Fiduciary serves people who are estranged from their families, are the subjects of abuse or undue influence, have serious mental or physical health issues and have no place else to turn.

    Cases are referred to the Public Fiduciary by physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, attorneys, Adult Protective Services, professional fiduciaries, the Social Security Administration, and members of the general public.

    The Office of the Pima County Public Fiduciary was established in 1973 pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes 14-5601, et seq. The Public Fiduciary is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. The Pima County Public Fiduciary supervises a diverse group of professionals and para professionals including Guardian/Estate Administrators, finance and accounting specialists, burial and benefits specialists, and administrative and support personnel to perform a whole spectrum of fiduciary services for the people of Pima County.

    It is important to note that the wards or protected persons for whom the Public Fiduciary is appointed Guardian and Conservator are not supported by any county funds or administrative budget funds of the Public Fiduciary’s Office. All support for the wards or protected persons is derived from the estate of the ward or protected person.


    A Guardian is appointed by the probate court to ensure that the personal and medical needs of an incapacitated person are met. A person is determined by the court to be incapacitated when he or she lacks sufficient understanding or “capacity” to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his or her daily living needs. Incapacity is usually a result of physical or mental illness, accident or dementia.

    The incapacitated person then becomes the legal responsibility of the Guardian. Each year the Guardian must report to the court the progress made in managing the ward’s personal affairs.

    A Conservator is appointed by the probate court to manage the financial affairs of someone who is determined by the court to be unable to manage his or her own finances or property.

    The Conservator manages the assets of the protected person for his or her benefit under the court’s supervision. Each year the Conservator must file an account with the court and receive the court’s approval. This annual account must balance from year to year and show all receipts and disbursements made during the year.

    Guardianship or Conservatorship should be considered a last resort. It should never be used in a retaliatory manner or as a convenience for a health-care provider, family member or others. Guardianship or Conservatorship is an extreme form of intervention in a person’s life, as it takes control over personal and/or financial decisions for an indefinite, often permanent period of time. A Guardianship or Conservatorship constitutes a severe restriction of an individual’s liberty. Once established, it can be extremely difficult to revoke a Guardianship or Conservatorship, even if the Guardian or Conservator believes it is no longer necessary.

    Assessing need for a Guardian or Conservator

    This Ward Intake Form shows some of the information Guardians or Conservators will need.

    Personal Representative

    A Personal Representative is appointed by the probate court to administer the estate of a person who died, who is referred to as the “decedent.” The Personal Representative is responsible for identifying, inventorying and protecting all of the assets in the estate; paying bills and allowable claims against the estate; locating all of the heirs and beneficiaries; paying the administrative costs of probating the estate, including court-approved fees; and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.

    Indigent Cremation/Burial

    Please accept our sincerest condolences on the recent loss of your loved one. We understand the difficulties that you are undoubtedly experiencing and are committed to exploring with you options regarding cremation/burial arrangements for your loved one.

    Normally, legal responsibility for cremation/burial of the decedent rests with the next of kin. However, if the next of kin is financially unable to pay for burial arrangements, this office will explore with you alternatives to ensure that your loved one is disposed of in a timely and dignified manner.

    One of the options available to you is the Pima County Indigent Cremation/Burial Program. To determine if you are eligible for assistance through this program, you must complete and sign the application/affidavit (link to decedent referral form) and return it to this office as soon as possible. You may also be requested to provide additional information or documentation to assist us to process your request for assistance. Once this application has been thoroughly reviewed, a decision will be made regarding eligibility for cremation/burial assistance. Typically, this decision is final and not subject to reconsideration unless there are documented changes of your financial circumstances.

    Pima County Indigent Cremation/Burial Program services, rules and regulations

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    Public Fiduciary

    32 N. Stone Ave. 4th Floor
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    Peter Santini
    (520) 724-5454