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What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem represents the best interests of a child in court. A guardian ad litem can also represent an adult who is incapacitated or has diminished mental capacity.

What’s the Difference Between a Guardian ad Litem and an Attorney?

A guardian ad litem does not perform the same tasks as an attorney. They may make recommendations to the judge or investigate certain facts at the request of the judge, but they don’t argue on behalf of the person they’re representing in the same way as an attorney. In some cases, the guardian ad litem may represent someone who isn’t a named party in the case, such as a child in a divorce proceeding.

When is a Guardian Ad Litem Used?

A guardian ad litem may be used in several different types of cases.

  • Divorce or custody proceedings to represent any children.
  • Child abuse investigations.
  • Foster care or removal cases.
  • Determining whether an adult has full mental capacity.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

The guardian ad litem works for the interests of a specific person, but their true role is to work for the judge rather than directly for that person. The judge may ask them to find out certain facts, to monitor certain activities, and to present a report in court. Exactly what the judge asks of the guardian ad litem depends on the case.

Does the Guardian Ad Litem Make any Decisions?

The guardian ad litem makes no legally binding decisions. Through their investigation and experience, they may come to a certain conclusion about what they think should happen. However, the judge retains the final authority to overrule them or request additional information in areas the guardian ad litem may not have considered.

What Does Ad Litem Mean?

Ad litem is Latin for “for the purposes of the suit.” The appointed person takes on the role of the guardian but only for the specific purposes being discussed in court and only for as much time as it takes to resolve the court case.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do for Your Children in Estate Planning?

If something happens to you, a guardian ad litem can play several roles for your children in executing your estate plan. One duty is to monitor the probate process and ensure that your child receives what you intended in a way that benefits him or her. A guardian ad litem can also help your child through any guardianship proceedings including both making sure your stated wishes are honored and helping the court gain an objective view of what’s best in situations you may not have considered.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do for an Incapacitated Adult?

A guardian ad litem speaks on behalf of an incapacitated adult in any court proceedings necessary to execute his or her estate plan. The guardian ad litem can also serve as a go-between between the court and medical professionals to help the court of a neutral understanding of what doctors are recommending without having to call the doctors to testify in court.

How Does a Guardian Ad Litem Receive Compensation?

Guardian ad litems are paid by the parties receiving the benefit of their services. In a family court case, the parents may split the cost. In an estate administration case, the guardian ad litem may be paid out of the estate. In an incapacitation case, the guardian ad litem may be paid out of the incapacitated person’s assets.

Who Picks the Guardian Ad Litem?

The court appoints a guardian ad litem from a list of qualified individuals. It’s possible to nominate a guardian ad litem, but they need to be court-approved.

What Does it Take to Become a Guardian Ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem must complete a training course sponsored by the court. They also need several years of experience in social work, dealing with children or the elderly, dealing with people with disabilities, or in related fields.

Do You Want to Have a Guardian Ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem can be a useful advocate in certain court proceedings. However, you may be worried about the cost or whether the guardian ad litem would really be able to follow your wishes. The key thing to remember is that guardian ad litems do the most in contested court cases. If you can avoid the need to have a judge making decisions, you can avoid the need for a guardian ad litem. This might be by creating a thorough estate plan that covers every potential scenario so that the judge has a clear understanding of what you want without needing to rely on outside input.

What Can You Do if You Disagree with the Guardian Ad Litem?

If you are the person being represented by the guardian ad litem, you can petition the court to find you mentally fit to speak for yourself. Even if the court finds that you don’t have the capacity to do so, the judge can still give weight to your requests in consideration with any feedback from your healthcare providers.

If the guardian ad litem is representing a child or another family member, the first step is to speak to them directly. They generally want to have as full an understanding of your family picture as possible and may not even be aware of your concerns. If this doesn’t work or you believe that they’re abusing their position,  you can make a motion with the judge overseeing the case to take a certain action or, in extreme circumstances, to remove the guardian ad litem.

What Happens When the Guardian Ad Litem Goes to Court?

The guardian ad litem may create a written report to submit to the judge. Any parties in the court action will generally be given a copy along with time to review it before the judge makes any final decisions. The guardian ad litem also usually makes a verbal report during a court session. The judge may ask questions, and the parties will usually be able to ask questions or speak as well. In more contested situations, this may turn into a more formal cross-examination like any other witness.

Remember, that the guardian ad litem is there to represent the best interests of a child or incapacitated person rather than to win a case. The best approach if you disagree with their findings is often to bring out new facts or things they didn’t consider rather than directly arguing against their recommendation.

Do You Still Need an Attorney if You Have a Guardian ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem is not a replacement for an attorney. The guardian ad litem helps to establish facts that an incapacitated person may not be able to bring up on their own. An attorney focuses on how those facts fit within legal rights and principles. An attorney also helps to figure out the best way to legally achieve the desired outcome and to prepare any necessary documents. Further, an attorney can only act for a competent client — either directly or under the guidance of someone else — so an incapacitated person needs more than just an attorney.

Does A Guardian Ad Litem Replace a Guardian or Conservator?

A guardian ad litem also doesn’t replace a guardian, conservator, estate administrator, or other similar roles. The guardian ad litem may monitor daily activities, but their job isn’t to run them. Their job is to observe and report back to the court. You will need to have someone else to manage the daily affairs or yourself or your children. A guardian or conservator are often also expected to report to the court, but the guardian ad litem provides an additional person to do things like monitoring how the guardian or conservator is managing your finances.

Work with an Attorney

The key to properly using a guardian ad litem and not having any surprises is proactive planning. Whether you’d want or not want to have a guardian ad litem overseeing things, you want that decision to be in your control. You do that by having a thorough estate plan for your family. To learn more, talk to one of the estate planning attorneys at Lilac City Law in Spokane, Washington, today.

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I highly recommend everyone at Lilac City Law. They helped me through every step of the SSDI process. Thank you so much!!
Scott Poe
Scott Poe
00:24 02 Jul 20
I don’t know really where to start in order to cover the magnitude of professionalism, understanding, persistence and compassion Lilac City law showed me. From Randi to each one of her staff-they worked very hard on my case and pushed me to keep fighting in the midst of several set backs from disability. They were always atop of communicating with me and all others involved. I highly recommend them and not just because I received a favorable decision but because of the plan they executed; so even if the results were unfavorable-I would still not hesitate knowing I chose the right practice. Thank you for you compassion and patience😊
Joyce Kelly
Joyce Kelly
22:01 02 Jun 20
Randi serves humanity with compassion and grace in dealing with all matters of life and death. I would highly recommend her for all the services she offers.
Sarah Boban
Sarah Boban
20:14 16 Apr 20
I wholeheartedly recommend these people. I had a crazy case and at times I was a mess. My team, Randy, Pam, David, and, Marissa always treated me with kindness and compassion. Thank you guys so much for the huge difference you've made in my life.
Jenni Boo
Jenni Boo
23:24 12 Mar 20
I had my hearing yesterday for Social Security Disability. I was very nervous , but we won my case. Randy and the whole team at Lilac Law was very supportive and understanding! They truly want to help people win the benefits they deserve and I highly recommend them!
Tiffani Pelella
Tiffani Pelella
17:38 03 Mar 20
Initial meeting with David Morris went well. He treated me with respect and understanding. I felt that I was listened to. Even accommodated me when I arrived 1 hour early. Highly recommended.
Tom Richardson
Tom Richardson
18:09 06 Feb 20
The staff is so great, it was really great to work with them all, and they were able to help me tremendously! Thank you for a great experience!
Becki Lynn
Becki Lynn
23:43 28 Jan 20
Don't remember exactly when I first met with them, but they were absolutely amazing to work with and only took a few months for my disability claim to be approved.I highly recommend Lilac City Law.
Matt Napora
Matt Napora
17:46 06 Jan 20
Everyone needs to take care of their estate and make sure their family is well taken care of. Randi and her team will take very good care of you and protect you and your family’s future. You cannot go wrong using their services. Client service is their top priority!
Kim Benjamin
Kim Benjamin
21:52 02 Nov 19
Randi is a terrific lawyer and a terrific person. I wish we lived closer so that we could work with clients together more often.
Meghan Freed
Meghan Freed
17:31 02 Nov 19
They really CARE about their clients and work with passion! Highly recommend!!!
Jamile Moraes Pellicer
Jamile Moraes Pellicer
00:36 30 Oct 19
Randi and her team are knowledgeable, compassionate, and very helpful with their clients. I highly recommend Lilac City Law!
Connie Kaplan
Connie Kaplan
18:36 29 Oct 19
Excellent firm. They really care about their clients. You cannot go wrong with Randi and her team.
John Nachlinger
John Nachlinger
12:27 18 Oct 19
What a great place! Thanks again!
S Binks
S Binks
22:39 01 Oct 19
Randi and her Team helped me through my disability claim and they were there through every question I had. Great Customer Service! Timely returned calls and emails, very knowledgeable and helpful the entire time and even afterwards! Will definitely be working with Randi and her Team in the future!
Ronda Wheatley Ives
Ronda Wheatley Ives
17:02 21 Aug 19
Wow, these guys were so nice and easy to work with. It ended up that they couldn’t help us with what we needed, but the gentleman we worked with went above and beyond my expectations, and more. I could tell that they really care about people there, not just cases. He was super patient in explaining things to me when I didn’t understand, it wasn’t a stressful experience as I thought it would be. Thanks for everything guys!
Melanie S
Melanie S
06:09 21 Aug 19
Lilac City Law is an incredible firm! I had the pleasure of working with the amazing team at Lilac City Law for nearly 2 years. Their team is absolutely remarkable! They are extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and overall compassionate when it comes to working with their clients. I sought their assistance nearly 2 years ago and have continued to work with them. I had a great deal of interaction with more than just one member of the Lilac City Law team and therefore can attest to the fact that this group of individuals is absolutely unparalleled. Attorney, Randi Johnson, is an exceptionally skilled lawyer as well as an overall remarkable woman! Her support staff is incredible as well, including Cassandra, Pam, Marissa, David, etc. with all of them by your side you have been blessed and are going to receive the best results possible. I would absolutely recommend seeking assistance from this law firm, as they have the ability to change lives; they definitely did mine. Thank you all so, so much!
Torrey Tolmie
Torrey Tolmie
17:03 22 May 19
Lilac City Law went above and beyond to help my partner get her SSI. My partner had been trying to win for 12 years and finally won. We can't say thank you enough. Thank You Randi and team for all you have done.
Malick Darian White
Malick Darian White
21:33 29 Apr 19
Randi and team are amazing! We previously had our will and other documents prepared by another firm in the Seattle area where we are from. I met with Randi to update areas of my trust and was soooooo impressed with how much more she provides than the firm who first helped me. I love the short term care directive that she provides and think it is amazingly thoughtful!! Thank you so much Randi Johnson!!
Noah Gross
Noah Gross
17:36 01 Feb 19
I had a great experience with Randi and her team this past year when we worked with them to create our first-ever wills and trust. Planning for your untimely death and discussing personal finances aren't always fun topics, but we were appreciative of Randi's approach to these potentially uncomfortable conversations and especially liked the recorded legacy interview she conducted with us. Total 5-star experience!
Tine Reese
Tine Reese
20:39 30 Jan 19
I had a great experience with Randi and her team this past year when we worked with them to create our first-ever wills and trust. Planning for your untimely death and discussing personal finances aren't always fun topics, but we were appreciative of Randi's approach to these potentially uncomfortable conversations and especially liked the recorded legacy interview she conducted with us. Total 5-star experience!
Tine Reese
Tine Reese
20:37 30 Jan 19
My husband and I worked with Randi and her team to complete our last will and testament, advanced directive, and health care proxy in the summer of 2018. Randi, and her team, as well as David Morris, were exceptionally kind, very professional, and thorough. We had several meetings to go through the important stuff - the financial info, heirlooms, and disposition of my husband's motorcycle. At each meeting, Randi and her team listened to our intentions and concerns. At the signing ceremony, we got a huge binder with our info and a data stick for safekeeping. Included in our will is a review which will take place every other year. We also got a document which states who can take our children to give our babysitter in case something bad happens to us when we were out. I'm very satisfied with Lilac City Law, and their work. I would recommend them without qualification to anyone.
Anna Marie Martin
Anna Marie Martin
23:52 29 Jan 19
Parents are so intentional about so many aspects of their children's lives. Few will forgo putting together a will. But, what if you don't die? What if you are just incapacitated? Are you prepared for the unexpected? Are you leaving your children at risk? If someone else does raise them, do you know that they will be raised according to your wishes? Have you even thought through what your wishes are? All these questions and more will be covered in the process of completing a Family Protection Plan with Randi Johnson at Lilac City Law. Having our Family Protection Plan in place gives me an incredible sense of comfort and peace of mind. I highly recommend Randi and the staff at Lilac City Law. Hopefully you never need her services, but isn't it better to be prepared than to leave things to chance?
Marchauna Rodgers
Marchauna Rodgers
03:16 22 Jan 19
My Husband and I were fortunate to work with Randi on his disability case-she mindfully guided us through that process -we were so pleased with the results that Lilac City Law was of course our choice to have when producing our family trust. Again a very professional, heartfelt experience that made what seems to be a difficult process very easy thanks to Randi and her staff. We always recommend Randi to our community of friends and family. Pat and Patty Murphy
Patty Murphy
Patty Murphy
20:05 12 Jan 19
I became ill over two years ago now,at the age of 29.. I experienced seizure like movements that lasted for hours or even days at a time. The doctors were at a loss for a diagnosis so they called it a mental disorder. As I was unable to care for myself most days or work, I applied for social security and was denied. I sought the help of Lilac City Law, and was immediately greeted with compassion and action. My case was a hard one to win or prove. Amy Santa helped me and explained everything to me step by step.. She ALWAYS answered my questions and showed immense sympathy for all I was going through. My case went to trial and Amy was amazing in court and won me the benefits I so desperately needed. This process was so difficult and overwhelming on my own.. I couldn’t have done it without these amazing people and thanks to them I can focus on improving my health,and not worry about my family struggling. I’m thankful and very blessed to have had them on my side! Sincerely, Ashley Schauble
Ashley Baldwin
Ashley Baldwin
01:33 11 Jan 19
Lilac City Law did an amazing job with my estate plan, which was something I had 'thought' about doing for a long time, but avoided... Fortunately, Randi and her team made the process very easy and approachable. I now feel relief knowing everything is in order for my two daughters in the (hopefully unlikely!) event something were to happen to me. Thank you Lilac City Law for helping me sleep better at night! :)
Amber McKenzie
Amber McKenzie
03:30 09 Jan 19
This has been an awesome experience from beginning to end. Randi and her team were super helpful in helping us wrestle through all the aspects of our estate plan. Randi’s knowledge of estate and wills were very obvious from the beginning and we are thankful for her and her staffs expertise. Thank you so much!
Kevin Bunce
Kevin Bunce
17:22 12 Dec 18
This firm is the go-to for family planning and protection your children. Randi and her team are excellent!
Melinda Grimaldi
Melinda Grimaldi
01:49 20 Nov 18
I needed to get my husband's advanced health directive for a procedure he was having and it was so easy to find in our perfectly tabbed out legal binder. I found it right away, made a copy and stored it right back in the binder. Thanks for making us get it, and for making it easy to find and understand.
Jessica Gruver Koefod
Jessica Gruver Koefod
19:40 12 Oct 18
I highly recommend this law firm. They have the experience and skills to help people with their plans and their future. From their work with others, they take a pragmatic approach to law and don't over complicate things unnecessarily. With that said, if a matter is complex they are very capable of handling it.
Christine Matus
Christine Matus
09:29 05 Sep 18
Randi demonstrates a beautiful balance of expertise and compassion while dealing with difficult circumstances. I'm very thankful we had her in our corner! I can't reccomend her strongly enough.
Darin Pike
Darin Pike
16:47 25 Jul 18
Randi and her staff are the best! They help you with your case and are there if you have any questions.I highly recommend them!
Tammy Reedy
Tammy Reedy
21:56 18 Jul 18
Randi did a wonderful job of asking simple questions to help us determine exactly what type of trust we needed to match our goals. Thank you so much, Randi, for taking time out of your busy schedule to get us were we need to be!
Michelle Darnell
Michelle Darnell
02:52 17 Jun 18
Such a great meeting today with Randi. Tell me who wants to talk about wills and final arrangements, right? Well, my husband and I did this today and Randi, you made it easier than we expected. What a blessing to work with such talent and know you have our backs. Between you and Cary Wong. We will be sitting pretty, no matter what life brings us. THANK YOU!
Missy Schaaf
Missy Schaaf
01:20 31 Mar 18
Vincent Adolph
Vincent Adolph
13:30 26 Feb 18
Randi and her staff are great to work with - no surprises, and she made it all so easy. Now we have a will and health directives, so our children won't be burdened when the time comes. I highly recommend!
Sharon Robertson
Sharon Robertson
18:04 05 Feb 18
Randi and her team do amazing work. Thank you very much for what you do.
Erin Whitney-Neher
Erin Whitney-Neher
20:18 23 Jan 18
Randi are her staff are amazing! They are all very knowledgable, helpful and passionate about serving others. Every step of services are explained clearly and follow-up exceeded expectations. In addition, Randi is active in the community and regularly volunteers her time and talents putting on presentations focusing on educating others on specific topics. She has a passion for assisting those with special needs or situations. For legal assistance with heart, Lilac City Law is highly recommended!
Nadine Burgess
Nadine Burgess
18:14 25 Apr 17
Excellent staff. Very knowledgeable and go out of their way to get the job done! Would recommend to anyone looking for services they offer!
Jason Spade
Jason Spade
02:17 19 Oct 16
Randi was an excellent attorney. Her staff was excellent as well. I was treated with kindness, compassion and dedication towards winning my complex and difficult case, which ultimately happened. I am very happy that I chose Lilac City Law to represent me. I would highly recommend them!!!
Richard D. Seibert
Richard D. Seibert
15:56 03 Oct 16
Melanie Jason Carter
Melanie Jason Carter
06:46 01 Sep 16
Mia Martinez-Bermudez
Mia Martinez-Bermudez
04:22 30 Jul 16
Candice Pinares-Baez
Candice Pinares-Baez
11:00 13 Aug 14