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A Probate Potpourri

Probate potpourri

This week we looked for cases (and stories) illustrating important principles from probate court. We found a surprising batch of cases, and wanted to share them all. Hence this probate potpourri. We have four cases (from California, Louisiana, Maine, and New York) to share with you. California: “right of survivorship” may not mean what it […]

Due Process Required in Guardianship Proceeding

Due process

Probate courts have broad discretion about how to handle the cases they consider. Especially when it comes to guardianship and conservatorship, the probate judge usually has considerable latitude about how to proceed. It is essential, however, that the probate judge recognize that he or she must give the litigants their due process — the rules […]

Court Investigator Required Before Appointment of Guardian

Court investigator

Non-lawyers often assume that courts regularly appoint guardians from a list of people or agencies they have dealt with before. In fact, the people involved almost always choose the guardian, rather than the judge herself. Many states (including Arizona) do have a method for vetting a potential guardian, though. The role may be named something […]

Grandparent Guardianship Order Reversed

Grandparent guardianship

We regularly talk with grandparents who are distressed about how their grandchildren are being raised. Wouldn’t it be better, they ask, if the child could live in a stable, loving home? Particularly in those cases where they have been raising their grandchildren for years already? Parents’ rights Our usual answer: not unless both parents agree, […]

In Divorce, Who Gets the IVF Embryos?


It might not seem like much of an elder law question at first glance. But among the legal issues posed by advances in technology are those related to heirship, parentage — and ownership of in vitro fertilization (IVF) products. The law has been slow to catch up. Mr. and Mrs. Rich get divorced Melissa and […]

The iWill — Might It Be the Future of Probate and Estate Planning?

iWill admitted in Queensland probate court

FEBRUARY 24, 2014 VOLUME 21 NUMBER 8 News reached us this month of a November, 2013, probate court order in Australia admitting an unusual will to probate, and it made us wonder if we should anticipate a digital future for estate planning. An Australian probate decision would have to be pretty unusual to get noticed […]

Draft Will Is Almost (But Not Quite) Admitted to Probate

SEPTEMBER 20, 2010 VOLUME 17 NUMBER 29 There is a lot of mythology, misunderstanding and just plain confusion about wills and probate. Sometimes the reported cases don’t help clarify what makes a will valid, when it is subject to challenge or even what might be a will. The general rule is clear, and ancient. The […]

Conservator May Be Able To Act As Successor Trustee

AUGUST 16, 2010 VOLUME 17 NUMBER 26 Let’s say you have created a revocable living trust, and you have named yourself as trustee. You also name your two children as successor trustees, to act together upon your death or incapacity. Two years later you become incapacitated; because of a dispute between your two children about […]

Guardian Not Permitted To Maintain Divorce Proceeding

SEPTEMBER 29, 2003 VOLUME 11, NUMBER 13 The guardian of an incapacitated adult is often said to have all the powers that a parent would have over an unemancipated minor child. That legalism, however, fails to give much guidance about any limitations on the guardian’s power. For example: can a guardian pursue a divorce proceeding […]

“Simultaneous Death” Laws In Conflict For Insurance Payout

SEPTEMBER 3, 2001 VOLUME 9, NUMBER 10 Sometimes when the legislature adopts a new statute, no one notices that it conflicts with an existing law. While those conflicts usually get discovered and resolved, they can sometimes create real confusion in real cases. Consider the tragic case of the Craig family. William and Diane Craig and […]

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.