14-5651. Fiduciaries; licensure; qualifications; conduct; removal; exemption; definitions

A. Except as provided by subsection G of this section, the superior court shall not appoint a fiduciary unless that person is licensed by the supreme court. The supreme court shall administer the licensure program and shall adopt rules and establish and collect fees necessary for its implementation.  The supreme court shall deposit, pursuant to sections 35-146 and 35-147, the monies collected pursuant to this subsection in the confidential intermediary and fiduciary fund established by section 8-135. At a minimum the rules adopted pursuant to this subsection shall include the following:

1. A code of conduct.

2. A requirement that fiduciaries post a cash deposit or surety bond with the supreme court.

3. A requirement that on appointment a fiduciary who is serving as a guardian or conservator must provide written information to the ward or protected person and all persons entitled to notice pursuant to section 14-5309 or 14-5405 that the fiduciary is licensed by the supreme court and subject to regulation by the supreme court.  The language of the written information provided by the fiduciary shall be prescribed by the supreme court and shall include reference to the code of conduct that all licensed fiduciaries must follow.

4. Minimum qualifications.

5. Biennial renewal of licensure.

B. As a condition of appointment, the supreme court shall require each applicant for the position of fiduciary to submit a full set of fingerprints to the supreme court for the purpose of obtaining a state and federal criminal records check to determine the suitability of the applicant pursuant to section 41-1750 and Public Law 92-544. The department of public safety may exchange this fingerprint data with the federal bureau of investigation.

C. An applicant for licensure must:

1. Be at least twenty-one years of age.

2. Be a citizen of this country.

3. Not have been convicted of a felony.

4. Attest that the applicant has not been found civilly liable in an action that involved fraud, misrepresentation, material omission, misappropriation, theft or conversion.

5. Attend an initial session and thereafter biennial training sessions prescribed by the supreme court on the duties of a fiduciary.

6. Consent in the application form to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state for all actions arising under this article or article 6 of this chapter and appoint the fiduciary program coordinator as the lawful agent for the purpose of accepting service of process in any action, suit or proceeding that relates to the duties of a fiduciary.  The program coordinator shall transmit by registered mail to the person's last known address the lawful service of process accepted by the program coordinator.  Notwithstanding the provisions of this paragraph, service of process on a public fiduciary or the department of veterans' services shall be made pursuant to the Arizona rules of civil procedure.

D. The superior court shall, and any person may, notify the supreme court if it appears that a fiduciary has violated a rule adopted under this section. The supreme court shall then conduct an investigation and hearing pursuant to its rules. If the supreme court determines that the fiduciary committed the violation it may revoke the fiduciary's license or impose other sanctions, including civil penalties, and shall notify the superior court in each county of this action. The supreme court may then also require the fiduciary to forfeit a cash deposit or surety bond to the extent necessary to compensate the court for the expenses it incurred to conduct the investigation and hearing.

E. A person who in good faith provides information or testimony regarding a fiduciary's misconduct or lack of professionalism is not subject to civil liability.

F. Persons appointed by the chief justice to serve in an advisory capacity to the fiduciary program, staff of the fiduciary program, hearing officers and employees of the administrative office of the courts who participate in the fiduciary program are immune from civil liability for conduct in good faith that relates to their official duties.

G. The requirements of this section do not apply to a financial institution. This exemption does not prevent the superior court from appointing a financial institution as a fiduciary.  The supreme court may exempt a fiduciary from the requirements of this section for good cause.

H. This section does not grant any fiduciary or any applicant for a license as a fiduciary the right to a direct appeal to the supreme court.

I. The supreme court may receive and expend monies from the confidential intermediary and fiduciary fund established by section 8-135 for the purposes of performing the duties related to fiduciaries pursuant to this section.

J. This section applies to any supreme court licensed fiduciary who is acting as a guardian, conservator, personal representative, trustee or agent under a power of attorney, whether or not that person is acting pursuant to court appointment.

K. For the purposes of this section:

1. "Fiduciary" means:

(a) A person who for a fee serves as a court appointed guardian or conservator for one or more persons who are unrelated to the fiduciary.

(b) A person who for a fee serves as a court appointed personal representative and who is not related to the decedent, is not nominated in a will or by a power conferred in a will and is not a devisee in the will.

(c) A public fiduciary appointed pursuant to section 14-5601.

(d) The department of veterans' services.

2. "Financial institution" means a bank that is insured by the federal deposit insurance corporation and chartered under the laws of the United States or any state, a trust company that is owned by a bank holding company that is regulated by the federal reserve board or a trust company that is chartered under the laws of the United States or this state.