My dad in Cape Coral needs help. What does a guardianship cost and who pays for it?

 

A:

The person who initially pays for the proceeding is generally the person seeking to establish the guardianship.  There are exceptions to this.  When a professional guardian is involved, the fees and costs for the guardianship proceeding generally come directly from the alleged incapacitated person’s assets after an emergency or plenary guardian is appointed. The type of guardianship referenced in this question is a guardianship for an individual 18 or older when there has been a finding of incapacity.  Once the court has made a finding of incapacity, there can be a guardian of the person or the guardian of the property or both (generally referred to as plenary guardianship).  The cost of a guardianship proceeding will vary greatly.  Generally, if no one contests incapacity, no one contests who the guardian should be, no one contests the inventory or the initial guardianship report and there are no complications with the examining committee, then a guardianship proceeding will cost approximately $3,500.00, which includes the filing fees and the fees for the three examining committee members.  This is an estimate and the actual cost could be more or less than this. 

Generally, the documents necessary to start a guardianship are (1) a petition to determine incapacity, (2) a petition to appoint a plenary or limited guardian, (3) an oath, (4) an application for appointment as guardian and (5) the filing fee.  The process, depending on which civil judge the petition is assigned to, will take anywhere from four to eight weeks if there are no complications.  Many times assistance is needed sooner than that.  One option is to petition the court to appoint an emergency temporary guardian.  If the court finds that there is imminent danger to the person or their property is in danger of being wasted or misappropriated, then the court can appoint an emergency temporary guardian.  This process generally adds another $1,500.00 to the overall cost, and this assumes no complications. 

Under Florida law, a guardian or an attorney who has rendered services to the ward or to the guardian on the ward’s behalf is entitled to a reasonable fee for services rendered.  Thus, if a family member is successful in establishing a guardianship for a loved one, that family member will be reimbursed for money spent.  However, this assumes that person who is deemed incapacitated has money to reimburse the family member establishing the guardianship.  Further, if there are objections to a fee petition, then the courts will hold an evidentiary hearing to rule on any fee dispute.  Contact Matthew A. Linde, P.A. for additional information.


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