What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

When would I encounter a Guardian ad Litem?

Let’s say you’re in court as the Personal Representative of your loved one’s estate and you have everything ready to go. You have your letters of authority, an inventory in hand, and you are about to petition the court to get approval to sell some real property. There you are, sitting in the rows awaiting your turn, when you are approached by someone claiming to be a Guardian ad Litem for one of your family members. He or she starts asking you questions about your time administering the estate, what your intentions are for certain assets, or whether you have provided notice to everybody.

Who is this person? Why are they asking all these questions, and what do they have to do with the estate? The Guardian ad Litem, or GAL for short, is actually an important figure in some cases of estate administration. The GAL is appointed by the court, and he or she will serve as the eyes and ears of the court. Do not be alarmed if a GAL is appointed in your case, but please be mindful of the following when dealing with a GAL.

Guardian ad Litem Reports

The court appoints the Guardian ad Litem to gather information about the administration of the estate, to protect legally incapacitated individuals, and to represent minors in all sorts of probate proceedings. In furtherance of this work, the GAL will typically visit the protected person or investigate the reported assets of the estate and will then draft and turn over a report to the court.

That report can be highly influential in how a court rules on petitions and motions. As such, you will want to make sure to be as cooperative as possible with a Guardian ad Litem. Give them access to records and people, answer their questions completely and truthfully, and be willing to cooperate with the Guardian ad Litem’s requests.

Guardian ad Litem Compensation

The Guardian ad Litem can only be compensated for his or her work once he or she has stated on the record or reported that he or she has complied with his or her duties as Guardian ad Litem, including personally visiting the individual and making certain determinations about the individual. However, once the court is satisfied that the GAL has fulfilled his or her duties and compensation is approved, the GAL may be paid out of the assets of the estate.

As Personal Representative, you have a responsibility to satisfy that payment out of the estate. You may contest the amount or whether the GAL’s duties have been fulfilled, but once compensation is approved, you have a duty to pay the expenses of the estate, and paying the GAL is one of them.

It is important to contact an experienced probate attorney immediately if the probate court appoints a Guardian ad Litem.

Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help you today: Call us at 877-YOUR-FIRM or send us an email at Info@TheProbatePro.com.

Written by: Zachary Trosch