Maricopa Probate Court – Fees Mount Quickly

In a matter of months, lawyers and fiduciaries appointed by the court can rack up tens of thousands of dollars in bills. People who enter the court system flush with cash can end up destitute.

One reason the fees mount so quickly is the number of parties billing.

• The court may appoint two attorneys for the incapacitated person, the ward. One represents the ward’s desires, the other the ward’s best interests. The two may conflict.

• The ward’s trust, which holds assets, also may have an attorney who bills the assets.

• The private fiduciary and its attorney bill the assets.

• One or more of the ward’s relatives may have attorneys who may bill the assets.

A probate lawyer charges $175 to $400 an hour. Many private fiduciaries in Arizona charge $100 or more an hour. Attorneys and fiduciaries often discount their fees and perform some tasks for free.

Phoenix attorney Candess Hunter, who represents fiduciaries, says fees have become a huge profit center for some in the probate system: “It all has to do with a few people who have discovered how to create a billing machine to gather significant wealth.”

Attorneys and fiduciaries charge for seemingly every task their offices perform – opening mail, writing checks, answering the phone. A judge often reviews the bills only once a year and rarely makes big reductions.

Relatives grow especially angry when a fiduciary delays or denies paying for a ward’s needs while still billing for its own fees.

Family members of Dave Coppes, 85, of Carefree, who died last year, say a fiduciary, the Sun Valley Group, paid itself $27,000 in December 2008 about the same time it told them that Coppes could not afford hearing aids.

Full Article and Source:
Maricopa County Probate Court – Fees Mount Quickly

2 Responses to “Maricopa Probate Court – Fees Mount Quickly”

  1. StandUp Says:

    >Wow – Maricopa County Probate Court is all over the news!Good article!

  2. Barbara Says:

    >Agree. Very informative article and I'm glad to see things heating up in Arizona!

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