Some California probate cases involve a guardian ad litem. Unlike a guardian or conservator or, a guardian ad litem serves a specific and temporary role in a probate proceeding. What is a guardian ad litem and what does that person do? Let’s take a look at some commonly asked questions.
What is a guardian ad litem?
A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by a court to represent the interests of a person who is not able to represent his or her own interests during a legal proceeding. Many cases involving child custody, child abuse, or other family law situations where a child needs an advocate involve a guardian ad litem. However, probate cases involving children or incapacitated adults might also involve a guardian ad litem.
What does the guardian ad litem do?
An incapacitated person involved in a court proceeding needs someone to speak on his or her behalf. That’s the role the guardian ad litem serves. Instead of advocating for one side or another, the guardian ad litem is there to represent the interests of the incapacitated person.
For example, let’s say you and your siblings cannot come to an agreement about who should serve as your father’s guardian now that he has become ill with Alzheimer’s disease. When you present your case to court, you will ask the court to name you as the guardian, while your siblings will ask the court to name them.
As part of the determination about who should serve in this role, the court might appoint a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem will review the situation and make a recommendation to the court.
How long does the guardian ad litem serve?
The Latin term “ad litem” means “for the suit.” A guardian ad litem, therefore, is a temporary guardian that only serves for as long as the court proceeding in question lasts. So, once a court appoints the guardian ad litem, that person will serve until the court makes the final decision on the matter it’s considering.
The guardian ad litem is very different from a guardian or conservator. A guardian or conservator will be responsible for either the financial or day-to-day decisions on behalf of the incapacitated adult or child. The guardian ad litem, on the other hand, only serves for limited amount of time.
Who pays for the guardian ad litem?
It’s usually up to the estate of the incapacitated person to pay for the guardian ad litem’s fee. If the estate is unable to pay for the fee, the court will determine who should pay.