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Attorney Wayne
Attorney Wayne, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Practicing law since 2000.
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Elderly Guardianship laws of NJ. I spoke with an attorney

Customer Question

Elderly Guardianship laws of NJ. I spoke with an attorney to gain legal guardianship of my mother to protect her from a troubled and abusive family abusing her mentally, emotionally, and physically. I provided for all her needs from my personal finances and saw to her care and well-being. She appointed me as her POA and Executrix to handle all matters for her. The attorney I hired told me that it would cost $6,000 for petition for guardianship. Since my mother had no estate or money of her own, each family member would have to use their personal finances to challenge the guardianship. The attorney subsequently stated that "if my mother had $500,000 or even $250,000, or even $50,000" then he could proceed with guardianship. When questioned on this sudden change in costs, he could not give a plausible explanation. What is the cost to petition the court for guardianship and NJ governing laws?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Attorney Wayne replied 3 years ago.

Attorney Wayne :

PLEASE DO NOT use the rating system until satisfied. Instead, please click CONTINUE CONVERSATION for more info.

Attorney Wayne :

Hello. Thanks for contacting us. I am wondering if the lawyer was discussing legal fees, not the costs of court filing?

Attorney Wayne :

As for the other figure (in the 100s of thousands), was the lawyer discussing the cost-benefit-analysis as to whether it is worthwhile to take action, unless there is enough money in the estate later?

Attorney Wayne :

Do these explanations help at all? Or fit at all? If not let me know so we can continue and explore other things. In the meantime, I will get you an exact quote on filing fees at court (as opposed to legal fees, which are negotiable -- and often more expensive in the NY Metrol Area, and much less expensive in more rural parts of the Garden State).

JACUSTOMER-5bhegnkn- :

He stated $6000 to be total costs. There would be no estate at any time.

Attorney Wayne :

The filing fee is about $200 for the guardianship of an incapacitated person. If there are other filing needs, the courts charge anywhere from 100-300 per motion, roughly. The rest is likely to be legal fees and related expenses for the case. It may be worth shopping around.

JACUSTOMER-5bhegnkn- :

He implied that without that amount of money, there would be no due process. I am perplexed that he would even mention something of that nature, when he was fully aware my mother had no estate of her own.

Attorney Wayne :

I am not sure what he meant. But do shop it around -- you may find other lawyers will charge less. I can give out good factual legal information, but I have no skills in reading the mind of another lawyer!

Attorney Wayne :

Hope this helps!

Attorney Wayne :

I wish you and your family a smooth road in this matter!

JACUSTOMER-5bhegnkn- :

Can you answer my question of costs and laws supporting those costs?

Attorney Wayne :

Which county in NJ? I can get you court filing fees. As for lawyer's fees, they are not set -- but a matter of market price.

JACUSTOMER-5bhegnkn- :

I need to understand the reason of the 100,000 of dollars. Is there a provision that requires this amount of money; is each family member rquiared

Attorney Wayne :

Sorry, why did you rate poor service, within a minute of a follow-up question? It can take more than 60 seconds to be able to respond intelligently. I hope this just meant you want more details. If you are new to the site, you might find the information flow is better if its treated like a conversation -- since there are so many variables, that there are no pat, garbage-in garbage out answers that are worth anything. That said, let try to answer your question. The only possible explanation is that guardians (like executors of estates) are entitled to a "reasonable" fee. In reality, this often has a relationship to the person's assets, as the person's under guardianship's assets will be used to pay the lawyer. If there is nothing there, then the guardian has to be paid by some other mechanism -- that would be family, etc. based on the value of the person's property. That means there would be enough money in the person's asset base to make it worthwhile for a lawyer to take the case. Otherwise, a lawyer could get paid by family members. From what I gather, in the absence of any assets of value belonging to the person in need of a guardian's protection, the lawyer may be estimating his work will require about $6000. He may been saying that the percentage that he would get would make it worthwhile to do it without cost to the family at a certain level of assets.

Attorney Wayne :

Please stand by while I get you a reference to this part of the law:

Attorney Wayne :

You can read the court official rules here:

Attorney Wayne :

But, the relevant part of the rule is as follows:

Attorney Wayne :

Compensation. The compensation of the attorney for the party seeking guardianship, appointed counsel, and of the guardian ad litem, if any, may be fixed by the court to be paid out of the estate of the alleged incapacitated person or in such other manner as the court shall direct.

Attorney Wayne :

The lawyer, cognizant of a lack of assets from which to tap, may have been explaining why the fee estimate for the family would be about $6000. That is the best educated guess that we can make based on the known processes, laws and rules.

Attorney Wayne :

Please let me know if there anything we can do to clarify further. Please allow adequate time to provide a factual, thoughtful answer. We want to satisfy your need for infomation quickly -- but not so fast as to be wrong. Thanks for updating your rating if this information now provides the context you need.

Attorney Wayne :

By the way, there is one more site you may want to review -- as it gives tremendous infomration on the legal process of guardianship:

Attorney Wayne :

It is a guide to filing as a guardian provided by New Jersey's Court System.


 


http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/prose/10558.pdf

Attorney Wayne :

I wish you speedy resolution of this matter.

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