Changes to probate court may lead to quicker and less costly proceedings under AZ probate law

By November 5, 2010Uncategorized

One fear that people seem to have about AZ probate law is that a probate proceeding could last for an unnecessarily long period of time.  And, closely related to this fear, is that a probate proceeding could put an unnecessary drain on the estate’s assets.  These two fears are perhaps the driving forces for much of the planning that people do to keep their estate from passing through probate.  While probate is not an inherently bad process, there are instances where unnecessary delay and waste come into play under AZ probate law.  The good news is that Arizona is not turning a blind eye to these perceived inefficiencies.

As we have discussed before, the Arizona Supreme Court has appointed a committee to help reform AZ probate law.  The committee aims to come up with suggestions that will increase the protections offered under AZ probate law, and at the same time, eliminate some of the problems people have experienced with the probate court.  Based on reports of the committee’s initial recommendations, it looks as if some of its recommendations focus on judges, attorneys and other court officials, with the idea that making reforms at the top will have a trickle-down effect and improve the system as a whole.

The committee’s initial report states, “A well-trained judiciary is the first line of defense against fraud and abuse by fiduciaries.”  To ensure that the probate court receives adequate training, the committee is recommending that judges undergo mandatory training every year.  Moreover, the committee is recommending the creation of a reference book for probate judges to ensure uniformity in their decisions.

These recommendations are only two of the committee’s twelve initial recommendations, but they are important because they are directed solely at the judiciary.  If the recommendations are adopted, then we can expect to see serious changes to AZ probate law.  Perhaps ensuring that probate judges are united against waste and delay will help remove some of the uncertainties that people have about Arizona probate law.