After months of discussion in the news about the many problems with AZ probate law, we are beginning to see a legislative response. At the beginning of the legislative session, in fact, at least three state representatives have already introduced bills that would impact the Arizona Probate Code in a pretty significant way. While none of these bills have been passed into law, the types of provisions they contain offer some insight into changes we can expect to see with Arizona probate law in upcoming months.
Most recently, House Bill 2424 was introduced, which can be read in its entirety here. The proposed bill would change the current state of the law in a couple of noteworthy ways. First, it would establish a probate advocacy council made up of attorneys and members of the public, with the purpose of overseeing Arizona probate activities. The idea seems to be that the council could field complaints from the public, as well as create training standards for judges.
The bigger change that the proposed bill would bring, however, has to do with fiduciaries. Under the proposed bill, anybody appointed to act in a fiduciary position, be that a guardian or conservator, would have to submit a monthly accounting to the court. Further, guardians paid by the hour would be prohibited from earning more than $5,000 per year, and would be forced to resign if they could not maintain a positive working relationship with the ward.
Just to be clear, this is only a proposal; it has not been passed into law by the state legislature. There are presently other bills before the legislature, and we are likely to see more proposals as well before any bills are finally voted on. Nevertheless, the legislative interest seems to clearly indicate that a change in AZ probate law is underway.