The best way to save on costs with an attorney is to do as much of your own information gathering as possible. These tips are also good if you are preparing to represent yourself in a guardianship matter. I’ve written this list as if you are seeking guardianship over an adult or minor family member. See disclaimers at the bottom of this page and also feel free to view the original article on Avvo.com.
A Limited Family Tree
You’ll need to “notice” (send copies of court filings) in the guardianship case family “within the second degree of consanguinity.” This means you’ll need addresses and names for the proposed ward’s living children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, spouse, and/or brothers & sisters. Don’t have the information? You or your attorney can serve them by publication but be sure to at least list their names or that they exist. Say your grandmother remembers having a younger sister that passed away – list that too just to allow for informing the court.
If you are seeking Guardianship of the Person, that is, authority over the proposed ward’s healthcare and similar needs, you’ll want to know the names of their physician(s) and any conditions they have. For adult proposed wards you’ll want to try to get a Physician’s Certificate of Incapacity completed if you are already a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
Estate Planning Documents
Gather copies of any wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and/or advance directives the proposed ward is involved with. This will allow your attorney to evaluate disclosures to the court and may have clues as to the proposed ward’s wishes (or their parents’ wishes on their behalf).
Identifying Information for the Proposed Ward
A proposed ward’s confidential information will be disclosed as part of the guardianship filing process and that includes their social security number and birthday.
Assets & Income and Debts & Expenses
Your attorney needs to know if the Guardianship (if involving a Guardianship of the Estate, or finances) is over a small estate under $10,000.00 in value or greater than that. The rules for administering the guardianship are different depending on that distinction. Also, once appointed as guardian of the estate, you have just 90 days to file an Inventory, Appraisement, and Record of Value listing out the ward’s assets and income. With Guardianship authority the information will be easier to come by but even if you just know your grandfather gets mail from this bank or that bank at the outset, you can disclose it to your attorney and later to the court.
Military Service of the Proposed Ward or a Spouse
This is information you may not think to provide but which is important to a guardianship case. There are notice requirements related to Veteran’s Affairs in the United States as well as considerations about VA benefits or burial down the line.
This applies largely in cases involving minors where you’ll want to verify parent names on a birth certificate.
The court needs to know if your proposed ward is involved in another legal actions or investigations.
Information about Yourself
You’ll need to disclose things like whether you’ve had a bankruptcy in the last 7 years and any criminal history. The court will need your social security number and date of birth as well, among other things. If you live out of state, you’ll need to secure an in-state co-guardian.
Is the Proposed Ward In Danger?
Do not hesitate to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation to the authorities. For adults, this may include the Nevada Department of Aging. For anyone, this could include your local law enforcement. You can also reach out to the Public Guardian’s office in the county where the proposed ward resides to obtain assistance, especially if you are out of state.
Woodrum Law – 702-825-3483