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Health Care Institution Administrators Can Temporarily Facilitate Service of Legal Probate Documents on Patients
By Heather Bohnke

April 30, 2020 - On April 16, 2020, The Arizona Supreme Court published an Administrative Order (2020-67), allowing probate proceedings to progress during the COVID State of Emergency health care institution lock-downs. The order gives the administrator of an Arizona health care institution, or such other person the administrator designates, authority to facilitate the service of probate documents to an individual who is a patient of the health care institution.

The probate documents may concern a guardianship or conservatorship, or they may involve determining the validity of, or enforceability of, a patient's healthcare directive. Service will be deemed effectuated only if all of the following three events occur:
  1. The documents are actually delivered to the patient;
  2. Physical delivery of the documents are noted in the patient's chart; and
  3. The delivering party signs a Declaration of Service (see page 3 of the Administrative Order).
The party who seeks service of probate documents (the "petitioner") is responsible for ensuring that the Declaration of Service is filed with the Court. Logistically, a process server will likely come to the facility and ask the administrator to perform the physical service. The administrator should facilitate the service right away and return the completed Declaration of Service to the process server while the process server is still at the facility.

If a petitioner asks a health care institution to serve a patient with probate documents, the institution is not required to do so. Facilitating such a service is an option. If the institution chooses to assist, the institution can minimize its risk by using the Declaration of Service form.

The institution representative should include on the Declaration the patient's name, the patient's room number, the time that service was made, and the efforts made to confirm the patient's identity. Copies of all Declarations of Service should be maintained in a single location at the facility that may be accessed for seven years from the date of service.

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact one of Gust Rosenfeld's Health Care attorneys:
Heather Bohnke | 520.388.4790 | hbohnke@gustlaw.com
Peter Collins | 520.628.7073 | pcollins@gustlaw.com
James Kaucher | 520.388.4792 | jkaucher@gustlaw.com
Jeffrey McLerran | 602.257.7954 | jmclerran@gustlaw.com
Melissa San Angelo | 520.388.4795 | msanangelo@gustlaw.com
J.T. Shoaf | 602.257.7419 | jtshoaf@gustlaw.com
William Sowders | 602.257.7478 | wsowders@gustlaw.com

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