At some point in your life you may be faced with making the tough decision to seek guardianship over a parent or other elderly relative or loved one. Along with the emotional turmoil caused by deciding to pursue guardianship, there are also a number of practical aspects that must be considered. For example, you may wonder “ How much does guardianship cost in Missouri? ” Because each situation is unique, there is no universal cost that applies to all guardianship petitions. For a detailed estimate of the cost in your specific situation, consult with an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney; however, understanding the factors that can influence the cost in a guardianship may be beneficial in the meantime.
Guardianship is a legal status that is bestowed by a court. If you are appointed as a legal guardian for someone you may be the guardian of the person or you could be appointed as conservator of the estate of the person, or both. As a guardian, you will have the authority to make decisions about the individual’s daily life such as where he or she will live and what doctor the individual will treat with on a regular basis. As a conservator, you would have authority over the financial affairs and assets of the individual.
To be appointed as a guardian you must first file a petition in the appropriate court. A number of people are entitled to notification that the petition has been filed, including the potential ward (the person who needs protection) and close family members. Anyone entitled to notification can object to the guardianship or to your appointment as guardian. After the petition is filed, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the best interests of the prospective ward. Eventually, a hearing will be held where you will present evidence and testimony in support of the need for a guardian and your appointment as same. If the petition was contested by anyone, they will also present evidence supporting their position. The judge will make the final decision.
Because guardianship is a complex process, and often adversarial, most people retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to help. The costs of guardianship will depend, to a large extent, on whether the petition is contested. If the petition is not contested, your costs are limited to court costs and attorney fees for preparing the documents and appearing for the hearing. If the petition is contested, your attorney fees will increase and you may also have additional expenses such as expert witness fees.
The best way to determine what it will cost you to file for guardianship is to consult with your Missouri estate planning attorney.