There is much confusion as to the difference between a Guardian and Guardian ad Litem – Let’s explore the topic…

What is a guardian ad litem?

Typically, a guardian ad litem (GAL) serves as the “eyes and ears” of the Court. The precise nature of their duties will vary depending on the particular hearing type.


1. Before the hearing date, the guardian ad litem shall conduct an investigation and make a report in open court or file a written report of the investigation and recommendations. The guardian ad litem does not have to appear at the hearing unless required by law or directed by the court. MCR 5.121(C).

2. Most judges of the county probate court require written reports from their guardians ad litem.

As part of the due process protection for the adult who is the subject of a guardianship petition, a guardian ad litem is appointed to review the situation and make a report to the Court. After a date has been set for an adult guardianship hearing, a GAL must be appointed unless the alleged incapacitated individual (II) has their own legal counsel. MCL 700.5303(2).

The guardian ad litem’s duties are outlined in MCL 700.5305. They include:

1. Personally visiting the individual (visits to be conducted via phone during the public health emergency).
2. Explaining to the individual the nature, purpose and legal effects of a guardian’s appointment.

3. Explaining to the individual the hearing procedure and their rights, including (but not limited to) the following:

a. To contest the petition.

b. Request limits on the guardian’s powers, including limitations on a guardian’s power to execute a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order or a physician order for scope of treatment (POST) form on their behalf.

c. Object to a particular person being appointed guardian.

d. Be present at the hearing.

e. Be represented by a lawyer, and an attorney will be appointed for them if they cannot afford to hire their own.


The GAL must also give the individual a copy of their rights in the guardianship process (PC 626, Notice of Rights to Alleged Incapacitated Individual).

Darren explains the difference between a guardian and a guardian ad litem.

The Probate Pro can provide you guardianship services. If you or someone you know may need guardianship services and need to get the process started, give us a call today at (833) PROBATE.