We have discussed how the Supreme Court of this state has charged a committee with the task of making recommendations to improve Arizona probate law. The formation of this committee, as you may remember, stemmed from the notion that we have much room for improvement in the state. Well, interestingly enough, when it comes to probate law, Arizona seems to not be the only state with room for improvement. In fact, a recent story in the Arizona Republic reported on a federal investigation concluding that problems with probate reach all across the nation.
The Government Accountability Office is heading the federal investigation, and much like the Arizona committees’ findings about AZ probate law, the GAO is finding that there is very little judicial oversight of those who are charged with the responsibility of making decisions for incapacitated adults. The GAO has found cases from across the nation where fiduciaries breach their duties, and charge exorbitant fees to those for whom they were appointed to assist.
The GAO narrowed down its findings to three key findings. First, probate courts neglect to fully screen fiduciaries before appointing them to a position of responsibility. Second, probate courts do not exercise enough oversight over fiduciaries. And, third, there is a lack of communication between state probate courts and federal agencies. While these problems are not unique to Arizona, the GAO did rely on at least two Arizona case studies to help illustrate its findings.
That the federal investigation has many parallels with the state investigation into Arizona probate law says something to the validity of the purported problems with AZ probate law. Nevertheless, despite the horror stories out there, there are also countless untold success stories that come out of the Arizona Probate Court. Seeking the assistance of a qualified Arizona probate lawyer is one way that people can protect their interests when dealing with AZ probate law.