Why Does Arizona Probate and Trust Law Matter To Pennsylvania Residents and Executors?

Want to Know if Your Estate or Trust is Risky
or If The Executor or Trustee of a Trust or Estate
Is Engaged In Bad Behavior?

Pennsylvania executors and estate and trust benefciaries can
learn a lot about the risks of trust and estate administration from
these new Arizona risk assesment factors.

 
A new process of assesing the risks of an estate administration has been developed
by the probate courts in Arizona.
 
While this hs no legal effect on Pennsylvania estates, there are two groups that
this might interest.
 
First, if you're planning your estate and see that some of these factors are already
present or likely to occur you might want to take some extra precautions in
your estate planning.
 
Or, if your an executor or beneficiary you want to be on the lookout for these factors.
As an executor you want to avoid them - See our report on Avoiding The 10
Most Common Mistakes Executors Make.  Failure to avoid these mistakes may
subject you to lawsuits and liability.
 
And, if you're a beneficiary, then you should look for these signs that
the estate or trust is higher risk.
 
So what factors do they state of Arizon probate courts monitor to asses risk?
 
  • No family members as beneficiaries or as executors and trustees.
  • Larger estates or trusts.
  • Disputes between or among the parties.
  • Late or no inventory or accountings filed or trust notices given.
  • Inaccurate or no record keeping.
  • Unacceptable accounting practices.
  • Disproportionate or unusually large transactions.
  • NSF checks and bank charges, late payment charges, payment of interest or penalties.
  • Use of ATM’s or gift cards.
  • Health, business or personal problems of the fiduciary.
  • Financial problems of the fiduciary, such as tax liens, judgments or bankruptcy.
  • Difficulty in obtaining a bond or failure to renew it.
  • Attorney with a history of neglecting or mishandling probate matters.
  • Fiduciary with limited experience (especially where the estate is large or complex).
  • Poor or no supervision of fiduciary by the attorney.
  • Ignoring requests of court and ourt orders.
  • Pattern of rebuffing reqquests for information by beneficiaries or the attorney or court.
  • Unauthorized or uncommon gifts or loans.
  • Pattern of complaints against the fiduciary.
  • Transfers between bank accounts, particularly when close in time to inventory or accounting dates.
  • Lack of contact between fiducairy and benefciaries.
So the bottom line is that these factors increase the scrutiny of the courts and indicate
higher risks of audit or challenges.
 
As an executor try to avoid these practices or if the estate is larger without family beneficiaries,
then be more careful and keep even better records.

These are also the factors that Pennsylvania courts might consider in making decisions about
whether a fiduciary should be removed, or whether some other action should be taken to protect the interest
of the beneficiaries.

But, many of these you should monitor yourself in carrying out your role as executor, or as attorney
for the fiduciary.

These are indicators or symptoms of a probate or trust administration gone awry.
If you detect them, they will require your immediate attention or you or your client will risk that the failure to
act promptly, can subject you to legal action and cost the executor or trustee money. 

David M Frees III, JD 610-933-8069

David Frees advises banks, trust companies, and individual executors and trustees
on matters related to administering trusts and estates
and acts as a mediator of family, trust, and estate disputes. 

David M. Frees, III
Attorney, Speaker and Author
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