Guardianship is sometimes a necessary process that families must go through. Once an individual has been found mentally incapacitated, the court establishes the guardianship through a legal proceeding. There are various fees and costs that must be paid by the guardian in order to complete the process, as well as additional fees and costs that will likely be incurred after the guardianship has been established. The cost of guardianship in Arkansas can be expensive.
Expenses for establishing the guardianship
As with most legal proceedings, there will some initial costs incurred in order to establish the guardianship. The costs for filing the initial petition to determine incapacity will differ from one state to the next. The initial filing fee is $165.00 in Arkansas. There may also be fees associated with the actual process of determining incapacity. For instance, when physicians, nurses or social workers are appointed by the court to examine the potential ward, the fees for their services must also be paid.
Courts generally appoint an attorney to separately represent the interests of the potential ward during the capacity determination. The fees for this attorney’s services will need to be paid. Also, in many states, the fees that an attorney can charge for drafting and filing the petition are set by law.
Cost for required notifications
Whenever a petition is filed with the court to determine someone’s capacity and the need for a guardianship, that person’s closest family members must be notified and given a copy of the petition. Depending on the requirements of state law, providing notice can be accomplished by either paying a personal process server to hand deliver the petition to each family member or by sending a copy by certified mail.
The Duties of a guardian in Arkansas
The primary duties of a guardian in Arkansas are to manage the welfare and safety of the ward, usually including both financial and personal needs. It is the guardian’s responsibility to protect the ward and his or her assets. Therefore, a guardian is not free to do whatever he or she chooses. Instead, the guardian must file a petition with the court in order to obtain written permission before making certain important decisions. For instance, the decision to withhold life-saving medical treatment requires a court order, as does terminating parental rights. Most of the duties of a guardian will incur some type of expense.
Costs incurred after the guardianship is approved
There are many duties and responsibilities associated with being a guardian. These tasks often require payment of fees and additional costs, even after the guardianship has been approved by the court. For example, the guardian is required to file an accounting of the ward’s assets each year. The accounting should indicate which assets have been bought, sold, invested or otherwise spent on behalf of the ward during that previous year. Some guardians choose to hire and pay an accountant, or their estate planning attorney, to prepare this report. There may also be court fees associated with this annual accounting when it is filed with the court.
If you have questions regarding guardianship, or any other incapacity planning concerns, please contact Sexton, Bailey Attorneys, PA online or by calling us at (479) 443-0062.