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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In the News: Arizona Probate Task Force

Find The Arizona Republic's latest article on Probate Task Force Investigation 

AFA's 2010 Summer Workshop: July 9, 2010 in Prescott, AZ

Register Now! AFA's Summer Workshop: Friday, July 9 in Prescott, AZ

One thing we can count in our profession is that change is indeed our status quo! We are continually faced with transitioning care and service strategies based on the ever-changing needs of our wards. With that in mind, the AFA’s 2010 Summer Workshop, Nothing is Certain But Death and Discharge, will explore transition of life decisions and strategies including:
• What needs to be demonstrated before preparing a ward for greater independence and when should this be considered?
• What after death services are available and can be planned for ahead of time?

• How should can we incorporate shared decision making for medical decisions?
• What are some strategies to diffuse difficult situations that naturally arise out of transition?
• How can we prepare for seamless transition plans among private and public fiduciaries?
• How might we address self-care to ensure our own professional and personal stamina?

Workshop Registration:

Download Registration Form Here

Early-Bird Registration: AFA Members: $100.00  OR Non-Members: $125.00

After June 18, 2010, registration will increase $25. Register now to take advantage of the early-bird special!

* Please note: AFA's website registration is under construction; register by mail only, please.

Room Reservations:
The workshop will be held at the Prescott Resort and Conference Center. The AFA has negotiated special room rates with the Prescott Resort and Conference Center at $95 for Single/Double Occupancy. There are a limited number of rooms available at this special rate, so please make your reservations early. Please call 1-800-967-4637 and ask for the Arizona Fiduciaries Association room block. Prescott Resort and Conference Center is located at 1500 State Route 69, Prescott, AZ 86301

**If you have any questions, please email me directly at: charity@azfid.org

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Private & Public Fiduciaries

By Sally Carlson and Roger Coventry

Editor's Note: This article written by AFA members Sally Carlson and Roger Coventry was originally published in the AFA's Fall 2008 newsletter. We have decided to run it again since one of the main themes of the AFA's upcoming summer workshop is the Public & Private Fiduciary partnership.

In a global economy characterized by downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing, mergers, acquisitions, hostile takeovers, downturns, bubbles and irrational exuberance (to name but a few), the fiduciary industry in Arizona persists in anxious equilibrium based, in part, on the symbiotic relationship between private and public fiduciaries. The host for this dynamic existence is the voracious demand for increasingly complex services in an environment rich in enmity, regulation and litigation.

Okay . . . by now you get the biological metaphors that could be used to illustrate how we, the public and private fiduciaries of Arizona, are both “in it together.” Lest you forget the importance of our co-existence, let us review the positive relationships we have forged and how they help us provide valuable services in a challenging environment. Perhaps the most significant ways we help each other thrive are: 1) Cross-pollination, 2) Problem-Solving, 3) Advocacy and 4) Synergy.

Through the close contacts formed in our conferences and workshops, we mix the genetic (experiential and educational) makeup of fiduciaries of various stripes from around the state. With the baby boomers aging and technology advancing at incredible rates, the need for fiduciaries is high and will continue to grow. Together, public and private fiduciaries must actively recruit students and individuals with jobs or careers who might be looking for a more rewarding, albeit extremely challenging, profession. A few ways of accomplishing this are:

1. Communications by certified fiduciaries with local colleges and universities. By forming local groups, comprised of both public and private fiduciaries, recruitment becomes a less overwhelming state-wide project and can be handled through:
• Personal contact
• Mass mailings
• Preparation and distribution of a fiduciary pamphlet specifically geared to recruitment, including:
  • Fiduciary work as a rapidly growing profession
  • Engaging in a challenging and self-rewarding career by helping people
  • Opportunities in both public and private sectors
  • Working in a field that encompasses numerous areas—social, medical, financial, legal to name but a few
2. Training. As this profession continues to evolve, opportunities for training must exist at many levels. Some training ideas include:
• Private and public fiduciaries working together with local educational facilities to develop curricula for fiduciary course programs.
• Presentations by public and private fiduciaries in the form of classes or mini seminars to social service agencies, hospitals, mental health facilities, law offices, banks, family members of protected persons, and the general public.

Same problem different day . . . well, not quite. What we quickly realize is that although we find ourselves in the same (or at least similar) boat, there are numerous ways in which we manage to stay afloat. We have come a long way in the list-serve and telecommunications areas as can be seen by the questions and ideas presented on the AFA list serve, as well as our accomplishments in planning seminars through teleconference meetings. Working at the local level through regular meetings of public and private fiduciaries will assist us in providing insight into the specific demands, both similar and different, of our day-to-day jobs. While this might seem overwhelming in light of our hectic schedules, listed below are a few ideas to consider:
• Through teleconferencing, decide a topic to be discussed periodically.
• Select a different group member for each meeting to prepare an agenda, which might include discussions of current legislation, arranging for fiduciary recruitment and training, and topics chosen by group members.
• Through collaboration between public and private fiduciaries, prepare informative and educational documents to be disseminated to the agencies/businesses listed above under the “Training” section.

Here is where the instinct for survival is most evident. Our common and most persistent threat is over-regulation. Strong leadership forged in the fire of our daily strife ensures that members of our profession are not permanently disabled from any quarter.

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of Lisa Price, among others, we are making significant progress in the areas of regulation and investigation and follow-up of complaints. The matrix prepared by Lisa Price listing AOC complaints from initial violations through resolution is an invaluable tool for all of us and can be updated on a regular basis.

Audit Preparation will be a future seminar topic. Recently audited public and private fiduciaries will share their experiences at upcoming state and local seminars. During the presentation we will share policies and procedures that ensure best practices and aid in meeting audit requirements.

Our peers tend to have extensive and diverse backgrounds. We benefit from such diversity, just as a biological organisms become stronger the more diverse the DNA source. The value of this characteristic manifests in the ability of our profession to rapidly adapt to the ever-changing environment in which we co-exist. The development of value added services and methods of improving efficiencies are quickly adopted such that our relatively low total numbers (of certified fiduciaries in Arizona) are able to serve a growing and aging population effectively.

To ensure further progress in these areas, mutual benefits will be gained from:
• Collaboration between public and private fiduciaries during which we educate each other on statutory differences (i.e. bonds, initial probate proceedings, fiduciary of last resort), discuss and share policies and procedures and establish guidelines to enhance the process of case referrals between public and private fiduciary agencies.
• Most importantly, open lines of communication between public and private fiduciaries will promote a better understanding of the similar and different issues we all face. Through our cooperation, we gain strength to better serve our clients and we are more prepared to present a unified front when dealing with those who govern us.

Frank Ciotczyk, a fiduciary who has been employed as both a private and (now) public fiduciary points out how we operate together to help our community: “I don't believe the ‘system’ would function properly without both private and public fiduciaries taking care of those in need. While there are many differences between the two branches, each and every fiduciary, public or private, has one thing in common - the desire to serve and do the right thing for their client - and that's what being a professional fiduciary is all about.”

Our survival instincts have been honed through numerous encounters in hostile environments. It is clear that our mutual survival depends on the continuance of practices that have resulted in our success thus far and ensuring that we can nimbly react to our environment. In a world of chaos, we must rise above the fray long enough to perceive that what we see through a glass darkly is not a competitor, but a kindred spirit on a parallel path to excellence.