The future of AZ probate law

By March 29, 2011Uncategorized

We have devoted quite a bit of attention to purported problems with AZ probate law, as well as to some of the proposed solutions that the legislature has considered.  While it took quite some time, it looks as if the legislature has narrowed down its choices to two pieces of legislation, House Bill 2424 and Senate Bill 1499.  We devoted a blog to each of these bills, but it might provide additional clarity to look at the two bills side-by-side.

Both the House Bill and the Senate Bill are designed to increase fiduciary accountability under the Arizona Probate Code.  But while both bills share the same ultimate objective, the approaches they take to meet this objective vary substantially from one another.  Speaking very generally, SB 1499 vests the judiciary with even greater oversight of fiduciaries, and HB 2424 allows individuals affected by unscrupulous fiduciaries to seek extrajudicial support.  The following examines the two bills more closely:

SB 1499

  • Requires fiduciaries to submit budgets to the AZ Probate Court.
  • Requires the AZ Probate Court to impose and supervise mandatory fee guidelines.
  • Prohibits fiduciaries from spending a ward’s money on things that are not for the ward’s benefit.
  • Allows the Probate Court to punish individuals for bringing challenges to a fiduciary relationship that the court deems are without merit.

HB 2424

  • Places limits on legal and fiduciary fees.
  • Requires fiduciaries to submit monthly accounting to the AZ Probate Court.
  • Establishes an extra-judicial committee to which wards and their families may submit complaints about judges who supervise fiduciary cases.
  • Allows wards to discharge a fiduciary at least once a year, even without cause.

It will still be some time yet before we know for certain which of these bills the state legislature will adopt.  One way or another, however, an Arizona probate lawyer will be extremely helpful to families trying to navigate the Arizona Probate Code.  As this area of the law evolves, those impacted by AZ probate law will need to remain abreast of changes, and an AZ probate lawyer can help ensure that they do.