Even after reform, some Arizona state probate laws remain

By April 29, 2011Uncategorized

In our last post, we discussed some of the changes to Arizona state probate laws that we can expect to see in the very near future.  We discussed how SB 1499 passed in the Senate and how HB 2424 passed in the House, and how the passage of these bills by the state legislature is viewed as a victory by those in the state who have long been pushing for reform to Arizona state probate laws.  In passing, we also mentioned how the version of these bills that the Legislature ultimately signed varied slightly from the versions that were initially proposed.  Just to remove any uncertainty, we will go over those pieces of the bills that were ultimately not included.

As it was originally drafted, SB 1499 included a provision that would require those who challenged a fiduciary’s actions to pay for attorney fees and court costs personally if the challenge turned out to be unmeritorious.  In the end, however, the Senate determined that this provision would prevent concerned family members from raising legitimate objections, so it was not included in the final version of the bill.  As such, assuming that the governor signs SB 1499, Arizona state probate laws cannot punish family members from raising concerns about fiduciary actions.

Also, as it was originally drafted, HB 2424 included a provision that would have required clear and convincing evidence of abuse, exploitation, or mismanagement for the court to appoint a conservator to manage the finances of an incapacitated adult.  In the end, however, the House determined that this was too high of a standard, and this provision was not included in the final version of the bill.  As such, under Arizona state probate laws, the court can still appoint a conservator without finding evidence that reaches the level of clear and convincing.

Despite the fact that these changes will not become part of Arizona state probate laws, the new legislation will add substantial protections to wards and protected persons.  Again, none of the changes will take effect until the governor signs the legislation into law, but the consensus seems to be that she is fully expected to do so.  To learn more about Arizona state probate laws, call JacksonWhite or fill out a consultation request form.