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Probate Changes. As many of you know, Governor Doug Ducey declared a statewide emergency as a result of COVID-19. On April 16, 2020, the Arizona Supreme Court made changes that affect probate proceedings. Specifically, these changes affect probate processes that impose notary requirements and service requirements.

Changes in Probate Service Requirements

Prior to these changes, Rule 4(d) specified those who could effectuate service of process. “Service” means giving legally required notice to other people that you have filed documents with the court. These documents may affect them or someone in whom they have a legal interest. Further, Service demonstrates to the court that you provided notice as required by law.

Those most commonly known with authority to provide service include the Sheriff or a private process server. The Court’s Administrative Order extends those authorized to provide service of process to the Administrator of a Healthcare Institution as defined in A.R.S. § 36-401(22), or such persons designated by the Administrator.

The Order Authorizes Administrators to Serve What?

Healthcare Administrators may serve the subject person of a guardianship or conservatorship any of the documents required to be personally served under Chapter 5, Title 14 A.R.S.

Additionally, Administrators may also serve the principal of a healthcare directive (Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will). This extends to documents requiring the server to personally serve the principal in an action under Chapter 32 of Title 36 (Living Wills and Healthcare Directives) to determine the validity of or to enforce the principal’s healthcare directive.

What Is Proper Service of Process Under these Changes?

The Administrator must deliver the documents to the patient. This means the Administrator notes delivery in the patient’s medical chart. The Administrator will also sign a Declaration of Service (an example is attached to the Order). Then, the Petitioner must ensure the filing of the Declaration of Service with the Court.

Changes in Notary Requirements

Photocopy of ID in Lieu of Notary

The Order further amends the required acknowledgement (verification of signer’s identity) under Rule 10(a), Arizona Rules of Probate Procedure. Prior to the changes, documents such as a waiver of bond or waiver of priority of appointment required a notarized signature. However, the rule change allows an attached photocopy of a Driver’s License or other government-issued ID in lieu of the notary requirement.

Telephonic/Video Conference for Hearing

Each case may require instructions for a telephonic and/or video conference. Also, the required attendance of Petitioner at an initial hearing under Rule 17(a)(1), Arizona Rules of Probate Procedure, Petitioner may attend by phone or video or other technology as the case may be. This is also true for the attendance of interested persons who oppose the petition.

©2020 by Probate Law Group

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