How Much Is a Guardian Lawyer?
by Unbundled Legal Help
If an individual cannot take care of themselves or make their own decisions, a legally appointed guardian can step in. Establishing guardianship through the court can be frustrating, but you can rely on a guardian lawyer to guide you through the process.
Guardianship lawyer fees depend on the circumstances but often end up costing several thousand dollars. If you’re interested in getting legal help with your guardianship case but wish to minimize expenses, we can connect you today with an unbundled lawyer in your area.
What Does Guardianship Mean?
Guardianship is a relationship created through the court when a judge appoints a guardian over an individual, called the ward. After the appointment, the guardian may legally decide for their ward and handle several necessary tasks.
While many don’t believe guardianship is necessary and they can complete these tasks without it, lacking legal authority only allows you to do so much. Having the legal backing of the court gives you full authority to decide on the ward’s behalf.
Guardianship serves various purposes, depending on the age of the ward and their situation. A guardian’s responsibilities also depend on how your state handles guardianship.
In many states, guardians may handle everything, from medical to financial decisions. In other states, guardians can only decide on the ward’s health and well-being, while a separate conservator handles financial matters. And finally, in some states, the person’s title depends on the age of the ward—guardians are for minors, and conservators are for adults.
Guardianship does not have one linear definition and can mean many things, depending on your state. Discussing guardianship with a local guardian lawyer can help you comprehend guardianship and what that means in your state.
Guardians for Minors
Guardianship creates a legal relationship between the guardian and the minor ward, giving the guardian rights and obligations.
Typically, once appointed, a guardian for a minor remains as such until the child reaches the age of majority, which is usually 18 in most states. Other events may result in the ending of the guardianship, including the child marrying or passing away. A guardian can also petition the court to continue guardianship after the child has turned 18 if they feel it is necessary.
While many confuse guardianship and adoption, the two create different relationships. Adoption severs the legal relationship, rights, and obligations a parent has with their child, while guardianship does not affect these.
When a Minor Guardian is Necessary
A minor typically needs a guardian if their parents cannot care for them for any reason. A minor must have guardianship established in the following situations:
- The parents and mentally or physically unable to care for their child
- The parents are incarcerated
- The parents have passed away
Minor guardians foster a safe environment for children, protecting their health and well-being until minors can take care of themselves.
Responsibilities for Minor Guardians
A minor guardian’s responsibilities depend on the child’s situation and needs. Guardians can take care the following duties:
- Providing a home for the child
- Ensuring the child’s needs are always met
- Making critical decisions that affect the child and their future
- Managing the child’s finances or inheritances
Some guardians must take care of everything for the child, while some are only responsible for specific tasks, like handling the child’s finances. The guardian’s responsibilities are dictated by the minor’s parents or the judge.
Who Can Be a Minor Guardian?
Anyone can be a guardian for a minor, not just a relative or family friend. However, who the court formally appoints depends on the circumstances.
Sometimes, parents create estate plans choosing a guardian for their children should they pass away. If they die and the judge finds the selected guardian right for the position, they can officially appoint this person to the role.
In other situations, the court is tasked with appointing a guardian for the child. Some states allow parents to consent to guardianship, but this is not always necessary. The court tries to choose a guardian the minor already knows, making the process easier for them.
No matter who is appointed, the court always tries to ensure this person is aware of the responsibility and committed to taking care of the child and their best interests. Making sure a potential guardian is right for the position helps limit the possibility the guardian will ask the court to relieve them of their duty, as instability can negatively affect children.
Guardians for Adults
While adults can generally make their own decisions, sometimes they may need assistance with taking care of themselves. An adult guardian can help an individual when they need it most.
Adult guardianship rarely has an end date and can continue until the ward passes away or no longer suffers from an incapacity. Some states may require guardians to check in periodically, and if they fail to do so, their guardianship will end, requiring reinstatement from the court.
When an Adult Guardian is Necessary
Adult guardianship is often necessary if an adult suffers from mental incompetency, or at some point becomes incapacitated and unable to take care of themselves.
Adult guardianship is also particularly beneficial when a person reaches an advanced age and their physical capabilities and mental clarity decline.
Potential guardians petitioning the court for adult guardianship must have good reasoning and solid evidence that a person needs a guardian. The court won’t grant guardianship just because someone makes bad decisions or doesn’t know how to manage their money. Guardianship is serious and is only reserved for individuals truly in need.
Responsibilities for Adult Guardians
Responsibilities for adult guardians depend on the needs of the ward and state law. Some of the tasks guardians are in charge of include these:
- Managing the ward’s finances, assets, and property
- Ensuring the ward’s needs are met
- Arranging the ward’s living arrangements, or ensuring their current situation is acceptable
- Making decisions for the ward, including healthcare decisions
While not common in every state, some states separate the guardian’s duties. For example, a guardian can be a guardian of the person, allowing them to decide for the ward’s wellbeing. Some guardians are a guardian of the estate, making the guardian responsible for the ward’s finances and assets. Guardians can also be guardians of the person and their estate.
Who Can Be an Adult Guardian?
Every state has its requirements for potential guardians. Generally, guardians must meet these criteria:
- They must be 18 and older
- They must not have any incapacity
- They cannot have any criminal convictions
Certain states may also have additional criteria for potential guardians.
Guardians need not be family or close friends; anyone can serve as an adult’s guardian. Similar to minor guardianship, being an adult guardian is an important and time-consuming role. When appointing a guardian, judges weigh several factors to help determine whether a person is well-suited for the position.
What Is a Guardian Lawyer?
The guardianship process can seem daunting and stressful, but fortunately, you don’t have to go through it alone. An attorney can provide the help you need.
A guardian lawyer can help you pursue an appointment from the court. These attorneys know the law and procedure required for your case, making them highly qualified to guide you through the process.
What Does a Guardian Lawyer Do?
A guardian lawyer helps you navigate the guardianship process. They can help with your guardianship case and take on many of the required tasks, including these:
- Drafting your petition
- Filing documents with the court
- Gathering necessary evidence and documentation
- Representing you in court
Having a guardian lawyer on your side can give you invaluable peace of mind and help you handle your case promptly and efficiently.
Is a Guardian Lawyer Necessary To Establish a Guardianship?
You are not legally required to hire a guardian lawyer to represent you during the guardianship process; you are fully within your right to represent yourself.
Handling your case independently may seem tempting and offer certain benefits, like saving money. However, the guardianship process can be confusing and time-consuming. An experienced attorney can get you through your case and help you reach a favorable outcome.
How Much Do Guardian Lawyers Charge?
Guardian lawyers all handle their fees differently. Many lawyers require a retainer fee and subsequently charge hourly.
Typically, the amount you’ll spend on a guardian lawyer will depend on the time your attorney needs to put into your case. A guardian lawyer can cost from $1,500 to $3,500 and above.
An Unbundled Guardian Lawyer Can Help You
If you’re interested in establishing guardianship, it is best to do so with a knowledgeable attorney on your side. However, lawyer’s fees can quickly add up, placing a financial burden on you. An unbundled lawyer can provide the legal services you need without the high cost.
Unbundled lawyers are the same as regular lawyers. The only detail that sets unbundled lawyers apart is the way they handle fees for their services. Instead of paying an attorney to handle our entire case, your unbundled lawyer can assist with the most critical portions of your case while you handle the rest.
Unbundled Legal Help has established a vast network of unbundled lawyers. We believe everyone deserves quality legal services without the steep price.