PRESS RELEASE: HB2424 Legislation Introduced to Reform Probate Court

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 20, 2011

Arizona could become National leader with new laws

 January 19, 2011-Phoenix, ARIZONA – Following multiple reports of devastating abuses involving Arizona probate court,   Arizona State Representative David Smith (R – Carefree) sponsored legislation that would make Arizona the nation’s leader in judicial probate reform.  House Bill 2424 seeks to remedy rampant financial exploitation and abuses by Arizona’s probate court-ordered fiduciaries and others in the court system. The concerns over probate abuses have been widely documented in the media and in a report to the United States Senate submitted in September 2010.

When asked about his motivations, Representative Smith shared in an interview with the Arizona Republic’s Laurie Roberts: “I was concerned about the articles I read in the paper, some of the abuses that you point out.  In fact, I knew some of the people involved in one case.”

Sherry Lund, who is advocating for HB2424 said, “We are fighting for probate reform so no other Arizona family will suffer from the horrific abuses in the current system.  Such reform is overdue and new laws are the solution.”

HB2424 will become the national standard for probate reform.  The current draft includes:

  • Improving oversight of probate court system by establishing an advocacy panel appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President of the Senate. 
  • Allowing wards, or their families, to request a change of fiduciary annually.
  •  Protecting financial interests of persons in probate by “capping” certain fees while requiring the court to establish a fee schedule for others.
  •  Developing stronger fiduciary accountability by requiring a monthly accounting of expenditures.
  •  Ensuring the civil liberties and wishes of the ward are upheld and respected.
  •  Implementing stricter qualifications for probate judges.

 One of the key pieces of the new bill is the ability to replace the court appointed fiduciary annually. The case of Marie Long has been one of the most egregious stories of exploitation. When Mrs. Long was placed under the care of a court appointed fiduciary she had a $1.3 million estate, yet it was completely depleted within 4 years leaving her penniless and dependant on the state.    When asked about the provision to allow for a change of fiduciary, Jon Kitchel, attorney for Marie Long said if it includes trustess, “Unquestionably, she’d still have her money.”

Laura Knaperek, who is working on behalf of victims of probate abuse said on the bill being introduced, “At the end of the day, probate court is about families.  If abuses are occurring in the probate system, families are suffering.  This legislation is an important first step towards protecting families.  I’m very honored to work for HB 2424 with Representative Smith and the other co-sponsors.”


Comments

  1. Sally Fourth says

    Ahh yes. The either McCain wins or he will continue to punish the grassroots and the Republican Party he claims to care about.

    He has done more to damage the Party than anyone in history and we have still thrived. In his old age he and his people continue to struggle for relevancy. Conservative are left to sit and wait for him die of old age and go away. His people live in fear of that day and their slide into obscurity.

    What a great legacy. He is such a sad man.

  2. Sally Fourth says

    oops the above should have been in the post below this one. Kids keep me up all night.

  3. No limits on prosperity says

    Received about this bill:

    I understand that you are one of the sponsors of HB2424 the fiduciary fee
    regulating bill. I would urge you not to proceed with this bill as it is
    only going to drive the well qualified fiduciaries away from the profession
    and serve to attract the under qualified to serve in a very responsible
    position that they will not do well.

    I would like to ask why the fee regulation is not applied to attorneys who
    are representing the ward and who charge between $300 and $400 per hour
    doing a job, albeit legal, that has far less responsibility than the
    fiduciary who is responsible for making all decisions for the ward, where he
    lives, how he is treated medically, the payment of his bills, management of
    his finances and having the responsibility to decide on when life shall be
    ended.

    But you say attorneys are a learned profession and deserve to be better
    compensated. Attorneys have a bachelor’s degree and a JD. Most fiduciaries
    have an undergraduate degree, master’s degree; some have PhDs as well as
    JDs. Many are or have been practicing attorneys. Most are trained in social
    work and have vast experience in making major life decisions for others.

    Where is the justification in limiting fees that a fiduciary can charge to
    $75 per hour when an attorney who has far less experience in the field can
    charge exorbitant legal fees based on his law license?

    The objective of bill I fully understand is to avoid the squandering of the
    assets of the ward. But you must understand also that the profession is
    fully regulated by the Courts and overseen by the Supreme Court. The
    responsibility that a fiduciary has is enormous. It is dealing with the life
    of a person in every way possible and that responsibility should be
    adequately compensated.

    James D. Otis BS, LF #20594
    Otis Fiduciary & Guardianship Services, LLC
    22487 North Mulligan Drive
    Maricopa, AZ 85138
    480-491-6442 Direct
    480-621-7896 Fax
    jimotis007@cox.net

    http://www.JamesDOtis.com

  4. There may well be a problem in probate, but this doesn’t really look like the correct way to solve it. For example, capping fees always screws up the market for goods and services – hampering the market’s ability to react to changes. Capping fees always ends up with forcing providers out of the market, meaning fweer choices and lower quality.

    Not very happy with antecdotal evidence as basis for law instead of a comprehensive study to determine what really is going on. The media has been egrecious in promoting politics over truth.

    The action still revolves around preserving probate making decisions about personal circumstances it only has a limited ability to understand, given the volume of cases and the information available to it.

    It would be more interesting to find out how this could be weaned off probate altogether.

  5. Sounds like someone is afraid of getting cut out of a good gig! I didn’t read anything in the bill that gave a $75 cap? Competition is a scary thing….

    The GAO report was pretty comprehensive. It looks to me that the biggest problem is the lack of disclosure and some very shady “inside trading”.

    A person that is the court ordered investigator to determine if someone needs a fiduciary is also the owner of one of the biggest agencies receiving bazillion dollars in court ordered clients….conflict of interest much?

  6. Sherry Lund says

    Please read Bill 2424 BEFORE you criticize it. It is a great Bill and also puts the responsibility on the Judges first. If the judges protected the rights of the people, there would be no problem with the fiduciaries and attorney’s. The judge is the one who is supposed to see that the parties are protected, make the appropriate rulings to see that the fiduciaries and attorney’s are NOT abusing the parties and if the judge is made aware that there are violations going on, he is to stop it and make things right. This is not happening. The judges are violating the rights of the people from day one in court. Through intimidation, the judges have convinced the parties and attorney’s that they have absolute immunity when in fact they do NOT. The US Supreme Court has ruled that if a judge rules ‘maliciously’ or ‘corruptly’, they are NOT immune from prosecution and accountability.
    If people don’t know their rights….they don’t have any. This is the way the courts currently behave.
    It is time for reform, accountability and transparency in our judicial system.

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