What does a guardianship cost?
There are several different sets of costs that may come from a guardianship.
The first set of costs comes from establishing a guardianship. These are usually limited to court fees and lawyer’s fees. In cases where both the petitioner and the proposed ward have limited financial resources, the court may be asked to waive the fees. Lawyer’s fees vary considerably and should be discussed.
Persons considering filing for guardianship or persons facing the possibility of guardianship are advised to shop for legal services. Cost may be one factor in selecting a lawyer but it probably should not be the only one. A person may also want to inquire about a lawyer’s knowledge and experience in filing guardianship petitions or representing persons contesting guardianships (many lawyers are not familiar with this area of the law). In addition, a person should be comfortable with and have trust in the lawyer.
Limited low cost and no cost legal services are available to persons with low incomes. In addition, the Utah Bar operates a referral service through which an initial consultation with a lawyer may be obtained for a modest fee.
Under certain circumstances, the petitioner for a guardianship may be reimbursed for legal expenses incurred in establishing a guardianship from the estate of the ward. However, this is a decision only the court can make. If a petition for guardianship is denied, the petitioner may be responsible for both the petitioner’s expenses and the proposed ward’s legal expenses.
The second set of costs comes from administering a guardianship.
Guardians may be reimbursed for reasonable costs for their services and expenses from the ward’s estate. A guardian may need authorization from the court to be reimbursed for some costs. A guardian is required to provide the court with an annual accounting of the ward’s finances and estate. Specific requirements in this area depend on the size of the ward’s estate and the specific powers and duties of a guardian or conservator. For specific information, you should consult a lawyer.