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Arizona Adopts New Uniform Trust Code Effective Next Year

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[NOTE: After this article was published and circulated, the Arizona legislature delayed the effective date of the Uniform Trust Code in Arizona for two years and then repealed the UTC altogether, and then re-adopted it in a significantly modified form. Readers need to check the current status of the UTC in Arizona rather than relying on this synopsis, prepared before the legislative revisions of the Code.]

After several years of work by some of the leading trust law experts across the country, last year the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws published a proposed new law for consideration by all the states. The Uniform Trust Code (the UTC) was promptly introduced in ten states and the District of Columbia. Arizona became the fifth state to adopt the UTC earlier this year.

Many of the UTC’s provisions simply restate existing trust rules, but a few new ideas have now become law in Arizona. Among the changes facing Arizonans who either create or administer trusts:

Notice Requirements


Trust law has long required that beneficiaries be given notice of the existence of the trust and periodic accountings. What’s new about the UTC is the specificity of that requirement. Before March 1, 2004, every Arizona trustee is required to give notice of the existence of the trust to any “qualified beneficiary.” Accountings must be given to the same “qualified beneficiaries” every year. This requirement can not be written out of the trust document, so notice and accountings will be mandatory in every case.

Notices and accountings will usually have to go to anyone presently permitted to receive trust benefits, plus anyone who might receive benefits on the death of someone in the first category of beneficiaries. Among those clearly affected by the change will be surviving spouses who receive income from so-called “bypass” trusts and their successors.

Powers of Attorney


The UTC also clarifies the authority of an agent under a durable power of attorney to revoke or amend a trust. The agent will have such power only if the written power of attorney contains specific provisions and the trust itself does not prohibit an agent from acting.

Spendthrift Provisions


A trust which prevents either a trustee or a beneficiary from conveying the beneficiary’s right to future trust distributions may be described as a “spendthrift” trust. The UTC clarifies that creditors of the beneficiary of a spendthrift trust can not reach trust assets. At the same time, the UTC codifies a number of exceptions to that rule, including claims against the trust’s settlor, claims for child support and alimony, and claims by some governmental entities.



Arizona lawmakers took out the UTC provision on the level of capacity required to establish a trust. In future years it will probably be set at “testamentary” rather than the higher “contractual” capacity level.

Effective Date

The new Uniform Trust Code becomes effective in Arizona on January 1, 2004. It will profoundly affect the administration of trusts in the state, and it will also provide several challenges for those who are considering creating a trust in the future.

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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.